California became first state to sue the Trump administration over its sanctuary city policy, which aims to cut off funds from jurisdictions which don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.
While the White House has threatened so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ since the president took office, a plan recently approved by the Justice Department could see many municipalities losing millions of dollars in funds for a failure to abide by federal guidelines.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit says the move undermines public safety and violates constitutional tenets.
“It’s a low blow to our men and women who wear the badge for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government,” said Becerra during a Monday news conference. “We’re in the best position to determine how best to enforce the law and keep our people safe.”
The attorney general is the latest official to challenge the Trump administration’s hard line on sanctuary cities.
The New York Times recalls how San Francisco and Santa Clara County won ‘a nationwide injunction in April against Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration, which directed his administration to deny billions of dollars in funding to sanctuary cities.’
But the victory of two California counties, no matter how significant, does little to counter the weight of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ directives.
Last month, Sessions promised to withhold Justice Department funding from local governments unless they allowed federal immigration officials access to their jails.
The nation’s topmost prosecutor issued a string of scathing statements throughout August and July, condemning sanctuary cities in tandem with President Trump.
Speaking in Philadelphia, Sessions accused its mayor, Jim Kenney, of letting organized crime flourish. He’s made specific mention of Salvadorian street gang MS-13, frequently claiming that the group has benefited from sanctuary city policies effective in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Despite the words pouring out of Washington, most proponents of sanctuary city policies have refused to budge – Philadelphia’s mayor and police chief both rebuked Sessions, saying crime rates plummeted to a record low after pro-immigration programs were reimplemented.
Becerra’s lawsuit encouraged city officials from across the state to write to the California attorney general, seeking guidance on how to respond before the September 5th deadline for grant renewals and applications.
“It’s pretty clear that this is another attempt to accomplish what they were unsuccessful in accomplishing with the sanctuary city executive order,” said San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera at Monday’s conference.
Herrera added that San Francisco – which receives $1.4 million from the Justice Department annually – has never tried to stop immigration officials from doing their job.
“We’re not stopping them,” he said. “But our police and deputies are focused on fighting crime, not breaking up hard-working families.”