CALIFORNIA
Judge rejects effort to block sanctuary laws

A federal judge on Thursday mostly rejected a bid by the Justice Department to block California’s “sanctuary state” laws, which enact policies friendly to undocumented immigrants.

In a 60-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez said most of the laws, which limited how state businesses and law enforcement agencies could work with federal immigration authorities, were “permissible exercises of California’s sovereign power.”

The judge said California was within its rights to allow state authorities to inspect immigrant detention facilities, and to bar state law enforcement agencies from providing release dates or other personal information to federal immigration authorities. He blocked portions of one law which imposed heavy fines on businesses that gave immigration authorities access to their facilities and records without a court order.

The Justice Department had filed a suit to block the California sanctuary laws in March, arguing that the measures obstructed enforcement of federal law and harmed public safety. They took aim specifically at three bills that allowed for state review of immigrant detention facilities, restricted the information state law enforcement could share with immigration authorities, and imposed fines on employers and required them to give notice of immigration inspection.

— Matt Zapotosky

NEW YORK
Protester pleads not guilty to trespassing

A New York woman who scaled the stone pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to protest U.S. immigration policy pleaded not guilty to trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with governmental administration in her first court appearance on Thursday.

Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, was arrested Wednesday after she climbed the statue’s pedestal and began a three-hour standoff with police that led to the evacuation of the landmark on the Fourth of July holiday.

After her brief arraignment on the three misdemeanor charges, Magistrate Judge Ona Wang ordered Okoumou to be released from federal custody.

Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, called the hours-long protest a “dangerous stunt” that endangered lives.

An activist group called Rise and Resist said on Facebook that Okoumou was part of a protest at the base of the statue against immigration policy.

The protesters unfurled a banner that read “Abolish ICE,” the acronym for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Outside court afterward, Okoumou thanked the U.S. Park Police for their courtesy and professionalism, but said the government’s “draconian policy” on immigration had to end.

Okoumou was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo before moving to New York, according to Jamie Bauer, a fellow protester.

— Reuters