Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

How Trump's pick to head Justice Department could affect immigration in CA

by Take Two®

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions arrives at Trump Tower on November 16, 2016 in New York City. Sessions is Trump's pick to head the Justice Department as Attorney General and faces senate confirmation hearings this week. Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

The Senate kicks off confirmation hearings today for top posts in the Trump Administration, including at the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security.

Those two positions – Trump has nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions for the DOJ and retired Gen. John Kelly for DHS – could have a big influence on many issues, from civil rights investigations and cybersecurity to voting rights. But for California, one of the most contentious fights could come over immigration.

"U.S. Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer, so the Attorney General has tremendous authority over the enforcement of immigration law," said Emily Ryo, associate professor of law and sociology at the USC's Gould School of Law​. That includes appointing judges and reviewing rulings at the nation's immigration courts – a key step in determining deportation proceedings and asylum claims.

California political leaders – from Governor Brown to Attorney General Xavier Becerra to state lawmakers – have vowed to fight federal efforts to weaken what they say are state and local polices that protect immigrant rights.

That all could lead to a showdown in the coming months.

"California I expect will be at the forefront of that movement to challenge Donald Trump's changes in immigration policy," said Ryo.

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