California Plans to Sue Trump Administration Over Anti-Sanctuary City Policy

Speaking at a San Francisco news conference, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the suit will argue that the Justice Department is violating the Constitution. | Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

California will become the first state to sue the Trump administration over its anti-sanctuary cities policy, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday.

Speaking at a San Francisco news conference, Becerra said the suit will argue that the Justice Department is violating the Constitution by trying to implement a new policy that would deny grants to jurisdictions that fail to give immigration authorities access to local jails or fail to give immigration officials 48 hours’ notice on the release of prisoners being sought on immigration charges.

“We abide by federal law. We respect the Constitution,” Becerra said. “The federal government should do the same. … The federal government is using the threat of its power, of its size, to bully local jurisdictions to do what they want.”

California is joining two localities already suing over the policy change the Trump administration announced last month, Chicago and San Francisco. The suits argue that the administration lacks authority from Congress to add new conditions to federal grants. They also contend that the new policy amounts to a kind of coercion intended to press local law enforcement into acting at the direction of federal officials.

Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the suit, which California officials said would be filed in federal district court in San Francisco.

However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has argued that the Justice Department is permitted to direct its grant resources to jurisdictions that cooperate with efforts to enforce federal immigration laws. He’s also argued that the sanctuary policies are reckless and endanger communities by releasing foreigners wanted for deportation rather than holding them for federal agents.

“No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents,” Sessions said in response to the Chicago suit last week. “To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system.”

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SOURCE: Politico, Josh Gerstein