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California Plans to Sue Trump Over Cuts to Sanctuary City Funding

SACRAMENTO -- A national debate has been raging over illegal immigration and cities like Sacramento and Davis that have declared themselves islands in the storm, or sanctuary cities, will not be cooperating with federal goals to remove lawbreakers.

Now California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra seems to be stepping into the fray, planning to sue President Trump's administration over its plans to deny Justice Department funds to cities that harbor undocumented immigrants.

The basis is a claim that the move would violate the U.S. Constitution, taking away Congress' power to determine what should be part of the grant-funding decisions, since compliance with immigration agents isn't written into law.

"Quite simply, I think what's going on right now is political posturing," said Matt Hedges, a Republican Activist in Sacramento county. "It's trying to get press. It's a popular issue, especially in California, to be bashing on the administration and the federal government right now."

Democratic Strategist Steve Maviglio agrees with that Republican critique, in part -- that an attorney general running for re-election is capitalizing on a prime moment.

"The electorate and the next presidential election will be less white, it'll be less educated and these forces believe in sanctuary cities' laws and they're in favor of it," Maviglio said. "Trump has to move beyond his very small Republican base to win again and I think Democrats see a winner here and that's why they're seizing on it."

But when it comes to how this issue of law will play out in courts and in practice, these activists on either side of the aisle have feelings that fall on either side.

"So the only people getting deported in Sacramento county right now are those that have committed a felony. And I think we should all come together and say those people shouldn't be here," Hedges said. "If we do have a sanctuary status in California those things that people are worried about, breaking into homes and pulling people out of their families, that's the only way the federal government will have to actually deport people. And I don't think people want to see that."

"It'll be in a court in San Francisco, which tends to be more the attorney general's liking," Maviglio said. "And we've seen the Trump immigration orders play out across the country and he never got what we wanted there. And I think the attorney general doesn't think they'll get what they want with this law."