April 18 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court upheld California's so-called "sanctuary state" laws late Thursday, reinforcing a lower court ruling to keep them in place.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected challenges by the Trump administration against California laws SB 54, AB 103 and AB 450, aimed at protecting immigrants in the state from arrest and deportation.
For AB 54, which limits cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, the court ruled the state's "refusing to help is not the same as impeding" efforts to enforce federal immigration laws.
The judges said they had no doubt "SB 54 makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult," but noted California has the right to refrain from assisting in federal efforts.
The panel ruled AB 103, which prohibits state and local agencies from entering into immigration contracts with the federal government, was not invalid because "even if AB 103 treats federal contractors differently than the state treats other detention facilities," the United States failed to demonstrate that it treated other facilities more favorably.
Lastly, the panel ruled AB 450 -- which requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to obtain a judicial warrant before entering a place of business, and restricts employers from sharing information with the agency -- does not "violate the intergovernmental immunity doctrine." The court said, "An employer is not punished for its choice to work with the federal government, but for its failure to communicate with its employees."
Thursday's decision upheld a ruling last July by U.S. District Judge John Mendez that dismissed the United States' argument against the three laws.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the court ruling allows states' rights and the 10th Amendment to thrive.
"We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it," Becerra said.