SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The state of California and city of San Francisco are suing the U.S. Department of Justice over President Donald Trump’s sanctuary city restrictions on public safety grants.
In a news conference Monday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and City Attorney Dennis Herrera, both Democrats, announced the lawsuit, which makes California the first state to challenge the administration on its sanctuary city policy of denying funds to cities that limit cooperation with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
San Francisco also filed its own federal lawsuit Friday. Becerra said he was filing on behalf of smaller cities and counties that may not have the resources to challenge the federal administration.
He said about $28 million is at stake for programs that fight and prevent crime because the president wants to impose his immigration policies on local government.
“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 when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Becerra said.
Chicago filed a similar suit last week, arguing that the Trump administration’s bid to withhold public safety grants from so-called sanctuary cities is illegal.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said the Trump administration “will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens.”
The California Legislature is considering a measure nicknamed the “sanctuary state bill” that would limit state and local police from cooperating with federal immigration agents. Supporters of the legislation, SB54, say it rebukes the president for his crackdown on illegal immigration.
The Senate passed the measure earlier this year, sending it to the Assembly where it still requires a vote. It would also need approval from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has said the bill needs changes but has declined to say specifically what he wants altered.