President Donald Trump issued a warning to California after Democratic lawmakers in the state advanced legislation earlier this month to make it the first sanctuary state in the nation.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday, Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from “out of control” California if it makes good on its promise.
“If we have to, we’ll defund,” Trump said. “We give tremendous amounts of money to California, California in many ways is out of control, as you know.”
If the state becomes a sanctuary state, state and local law enforcement would be restricted from helping the feds with immigration enforcement.
“I think it’s ridiculous. Sanctuary cities, as you know, I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime, there’s a lot of problems,” Trump said.
Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco are sanctuary cities and have said they will will challenge in court any attempt by Trump to withhold federal funds from them. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he doubted the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which reserves power to the states, would allow Trump to defund.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has said he would "join, if not lead, any effort to fight (the sanctuary city threat) with litigation."
Trump said he didn’t want to have to take that route, but he may be forced to.
"I don't want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state," Trump said. "If they're going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon."
During last month’s State of the State address, California Gov. Jerry Brown pledged to help those who’ve come to the state “for a better life.”
“I recognize that under the Constitution, federal law is supreme and that Washington determines immigration policy. But as a state we can and have had a role to play. California has enacted several protective measures for the undocumented: the Trust Act, lawful driver's licenses, basic employment rights and non-discriminatory access to higher education,” he said. “We may be called upon to defend those laws and defend them we will.”