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The U.S. Justice Department sued the state of California over so-called "sanctuary" policies that try to protect illegal immigrants against deportation, ramping up a confrontation over whether local police should enforce federal law.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, the California state capital, takes aim at three state laws passed last year that the Justice Department contends violate the U.S. Constitution.

Sessions discussed the lawsuit during a speech on Wednesday morning in Sacramento. The Justice Department lawsuit cites a provision of the U.S. Constitution known as the "Supremacy Clause," under which federal laws trump state laws, Business Insider reports.

“California, we have a problem,” Sessions told a crowd of about 250 law enforcement officials from the California Peace Officers Association at a meeting in the state's capital city. “A series of actions and events has occurred that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers.”

He called federal law “the supreme law of the land” and said “its purpose is clear.”

“There is no nullification. There is no secession,” he said. “Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.”

The attorney general’s speech drew an immediate and blistering response from Gov. Jerry Brown, who in a news conference demanded a public apology for what he called Sessions’ political “stunt,” and said the Trump administration was guilty of “going to war against the State of California,” Politico reports.