By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Immigration activists converged outside a courthouse in Sacramento as the federal government and California clashed over a state law.

Attorneys for the Trump administration argued against a series of California laws it says prevents federal immigration law from being enforced properly.

The debate over California’s immigration laws alone would have drawn a large turnout, but recent events along the border added to the tension. Hundreds of immigration activists took to the steps of the federal courthouse to protest a zero-tolerance policy by the Trump administration that separated children from their parents at the border.

“Don’t put kids in concentration camps don’t separate children from their families,” one protester said.

A statement so contentious, about a dozen protestors and pro-Trump supporters went face to face.

“Like many Americans, we support legal immigration. Just do it the right way. My wife was a refugee immigrant escaping communism,” said Ben Bergquam, an activist who has frequently spoken out on the sanctuary state issue on the Fresno State campus.

The immigration battle was also being waged inside the federal courthouse behind them. A judge heard the Trump administration’s lawsuit attempting to stop California’s sanctuary state laws. The laws aim to limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration agents.

But the Justice Department says they interfere with the federal government’s power to enforce immigration law.

“It doesn’t usurp federal immigration policies we understand that. Federal immigration authorities will enforce their law,” said state Sen. Kevin De Leon (D- Los Angeles), the law’s author.

He was surrounded by hecklers but asserted California’s right to protect nearly three million immigrants in the state illegally.

His position hasn’t changed since Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ visit to Sacramento in March, where he announced the lawsuit and blasted California officials in support of sanctuary policies, as “extremists” promoting “open borders.”

Activists call it a show of support for our shared humanity

“At a time when the Trump administration is tearing children from their families,” said John Rodney of the California Immigrant Policy group.

The judge says he won’t have a ruling anytime soon.  And expects to continue the hearing. No date has been set.