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California Risks Billions in Sanctuary City Suit Against Trump Administration

Chriss W. Street

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is launching a preemptive legal assault against the Trump Administration’s promise to pull tens of billions of dollars of federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate in enforcement against illegal aliens.

Attorney General Becerra is leading a coalition of 300 cities, 18 counties, and the State of California that intend to sue the Trump Administration over U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to begin cutting off funding to jurisdictions tagged by the U.S. Justice Department as “sanctuary cities” that harbor illegal aliens from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General issued a memorandum in August 2016 advising that sanctuary city practices violate federal law. The IG “finding” empowers Attorney General Sessions with the authority to seek court orders to strip up to about $135 million in federal grants to California state and local law enforcement agencies that refuse to comply with U.S. laws. The Justice Department could also broaden the cut-off to another $360 million in drug enforcement grants to schools, harbors, and airports.

President Trump on January 25th issued Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement to give the Justice Department the power to ban federal funding for sanctuary cities. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III, an Obama appointee, ruled in April that the executive order was unconstitutional, but the Trump Administration has filed an appeal and expects to get a ruling overturning the lower court.

The Trump Administration is seeking broader authority with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently passing Kate’s Law, which would increase maximum penalties for criminal aliens who attempt to re-enter the country, and H.R. 3003, which would cut funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws.

With the U.S. Senate expected to soon pass similar legislation for President Trump’s signature, California Democrats understand that $93.6 billion in federal funding, amounting to about 37 percent of the state’s $252.5 billion in spending for fiscal year 2015, is at risk of being suspended over issues associated with sanctuary cities.

The breakdown of California’s federal funding, by department, includes: 52 percent for Health and Human Services (Medicaid); an average of 25 percent of all state and local government general revenues for Labor and Workforce Development; 14 percent for Education; 6 percent for Transportation; 2 percent for Legislative, Judicial and Executive; and 1 percent for General Government, which includes Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Corrections and Rehabilitation, State and Consumer Services.

In an added risk to Democrats, Breitbart California editor Joel Pollak reported on August 5th that Judicial Watch just wrote a letter to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla questioning why 11 of California’s 58 counties appear to be in violation of the U.S. Voter Registration Act by having more registered voters than adults over the age of 18.

With a background that included 13 years working in the Civil Division of the state attorney general’s office, 12 terms in Congress, and being the second ranking Democrat on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Becerra as Attorney General in January to gain insight into how far California’s sanctuary cities and counties can push back against President Trump, before his Administration retaliates with a funding cutoff and aggressive enforcement of voter laws.

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