A Republican candidate for California governor said Friday that employers should help federal authorities conducting immigration raids and defy the state attorney general who says a new state law restricts such voluntary cooperation.
Travis Allen, an assemblyman from Huntington Beach, said Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s warnings of prosecution and fines for voluntarily cooperating with the U.S. government were so egregious that federal officials should consider bringing charges of their own against the Democratic official.
“To have the attorney general of California use California businesses as pawns in his ongoing war with the White House is not just wrong, it’s illegal,” Allen said in a Friday interview. “This is textbook criminal obstruction of justice and he should be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Allen added: “These are the same mafia tactics that we have laws against.”
The skirmish over immigrants comes amid reports of planned raids across Northern California and after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “sanctuary state” measure last year, which placed new limitations on local law enforcement’s ability to help the federal government enforce immigration violations. Becerra cited another new law, Assembly Bill 450, which requires employers to ask immigration agents for a warrant before granting access to a worksite and prevents them from voluntarily sharing confidential employee information without a subpoena.
In remarks this month to Fox News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director Thomas Homan warned California that it “better hold on tight.” “If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will,” Homan said.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris requested a briefing on how any raids are being prioritized.
On Thursday, in response to reports of raids, Becerra issued his warning about legal repercussions for those who voluntarily cooperate, including fines of as much as $10,000.
Allen says federal law trumps state law.
“I don’t think anybody in California thinks it’s right for the state attorney general to threaten them with threats of prosecution if they follow federal law,” he said.
Former Rep. Doug Ose, another Republican running for governor, wrote in a Twitter message Thursday that “if lawful authority asks me for assistance, then I’m going to provide it if I can. If the AG wants to arrest me for that, he knows where he can find me.”
Becerra’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.