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Resist: The people v. Jeff Sessions

by Christina A. DiEdoardo

Activists with Congregations Organizing For Renewal, Filipino Advocates for Justice (Union City) and other groups protested Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Union City on March 6. Photo: Christina DiEdoardo
Activists with Congregations Organizing For Renewal, Filipino Advocates for Justice (Union City) and other groups protested Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Union City on March 6. Photo: Christina DiEdoardo  

While critics have derided his sycophantic loyalty to a boss who publicly insults him on a regular basis and mocked the attorney general's uncanny resemblance to the Keebler Elf, I'll give Jeff Sessions this: when he decided to declare war on California, at least he came to Sacramento to do it in person.

Earlier this month, Sessions told the California Peace Officers Association "To carry out the intent of our laws, we need law officers. We need our immigration and customs officers and our customs and border protection officers. They are your brothers and sisters."

However, "California has enacted a number of laws designed to intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigration officers - to intentionally use every power it has to undermine duly-established immigration law in America," he said. "That's not just unconstitutional, it's a plain violation of federal statute and common sense."

Accordingly, Sessions' Department of Justice has sued the state, as well as Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in federal court in Sacramento seeking to block several California laws that inhibit cooperation between state and local law enforcement (as well as private businesses) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as one that gives California the right to inspect immigration detention facilities within its borders.

Ironically, given his comparison of Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to Confederate secessionists, Sessions came damn close to openly advocating that sworn law enforcement officers disregard their obligations under the California Constitution to comply with state law and obey his fiat instead. Lucky for the Elf, California got rid of its laws that specifically targeted sedition years ago, but there remains at least a technical argument he engaged in the solicitation of treason in violation of Penal Code 37(a), which remains a crime.

In any event, the state's response came March 13, when it filed a motion to transfer the case to the federal court in San Francisco, where U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick is currently hearing California v. Sessions, et al. That's the challenge filed last year to Sessions' threat to strip federal funds from states which implemented sanctuary protections for undocumented persons.

Beyond Orrick's greater familiarity with the subject matter (he also heard the City of San Francisco's challenge to Sessions' threat last year, which was a separate case), if the motion is granted it would take the case away from U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez, who was picked by President George W. Bush, and give it to Orrick, who was chosen by President Barack Obama. Mendez is expected to decide whether to keep the case on or after March 23, after briefing concludes.

In the meantime, Sessions seems to have already lost his case in the streets. A day before he came to Sacramento to insult our state, 40 to 50 protesters from A Day Without Immigrants SF, Filipino Advocates for Justice (Union City), Congregations Organizing for Renewal and multiple churches occupied the corners of a four-way intersection in Union City.

For hours, as driver after driver honked in support and raised their fists in a power salute as they passed, speakers and chanters made it clear that ICE wasn't welcome in Union City or anywhere else.

It bears noting these weren't my usual associates of masked up antifa. Instead they ranged in age from toddlers in strollers to elders active in their local churches. Even so, they shook the air with their cheers when an activist with COR declared, "We call on Congress to defund ICE, to defund the Department of Homeland Security and to defund the Department of Customs and Border Security."

If Sessions can't win in the cities or the suburbs, all he has are the rural areas - and if predictions come true that his immigration crackdown will result in crops dying for want of workers to harvest them, he won't have those areas for long either.

March for your life
The regime is losing its grip in other areas as well. On the heels of the wildly successful walkout against gun violence on March 14 by K-12 students around the country (despite the best - and disgraceful - efforts of some Bay Area schools to stop them), gun control supporters will gather in Oakland and San Francisco Saturday, March 24, for the March for Our Lives.

To the credit of organizers, they've staggered the start times so that it's possible to attend both events (as always, that's assuming no major start delays and that BART cooperates). The Oakland event begins at 10 a.m. in Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza and continues until 1 p.m.

The San Francisco event is set to begin with a rally at 1 p.m. in Civic Center Plaza, which will continue until 2:45 p.m. Organizers in San Francisco said they're still trying to work out march details, while those setting up the Oakland event have announced theirs will be a rally without a march component.

Besides San Francisco and Oakland, participants in 762 cities around the world - from Tokyo to Tel Aviv to Cork, Ireland - will take to the streets on that day to demand an end to gun violence.

Queer Prison Haters Ball
After the March for Our Lives, it's time to dance and support queer folk behind bars at the same time. At 7 p.m. March 24 at Hella Vegan at 411 26th Street in Oakland, ABO Comix, Rad Breath and Classic Cars West are putting on the Queer Prison Haters Ball. Scheduled performers include Twompsax, Chrysanthemum, Jack Dandy, Edie Godiva, Peppermint Furiosa, Payasax Buongiorno, Technopagan420, and Baby Di and there will be comics, zines, art, and other goodies for sale. The organizers are asking for a donation of $5-$20, all of which will go to help queer, trans and HIV-positive prisoners. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Got a tip? Email me at mailto:christina@diedoardolaw.com.

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