“The federal government is using the threat of its power, of its size, to bully local jurisdictions to do what they want,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The U.S. Justice Department calls the lawsuit “disappointing.”
California has become the first state to sue the Trump administration over its anti-sanctuary cities policy, Politico reports. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the suit argues 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. “The federal government is using the threat of its power, of its size, to bully local jurisdictions to do what they want,” Becerra said.
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 congressional authority 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 spokesman Devin O’Malley said, “Several California cities, including San Francisco, have already experienced the devastating effects that sanctuary policies have on their citizens.” He added, “It is especially disappointing that state leaders would take steps to limit cooperation between local jurisdictions and immigration authorities that are trying to keep Californians safe.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department is permitted to direct its grant resources to jurisdictions that cooperate with efforts to enforce federal immigration laws.