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California and San Francisco both sue White House over ‘sanctuary city’ orders

“This is pure intimidation,” says state attorney general

Donald Trump and various cohorts surrounding a desk while he signs an order.
The original dispute between the city and the White House stemmed from an executive order like the one being signed here.
White House

At a press conference on Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced that both the state and the city will sue the Trump administration over attempts to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities” by withholding federal funds.

The lawsuit was filed against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Becerra, who was sworn in as attorney general just four days after Trump’s inauguration, told reporters:

“The Trump Administration cannot manipulate federal grant fund requirements to pressure states, counties or municipalities. [...] By placing unconstitutional immigration enforcement conditions on public safety grants, the Trump Administration is threatening to harm a range of law enforcement initiatives across California.

“This is pure intimidation intended to force our law enforcement into changing the policies and practices that they have determined promote public safety.”

In April, San Francisco and Santa Clara County won a previous suit in response to a Trump executive order attempting to deny federal funds to cities the White House deems uncooperative with federal immigration agencies, potentially endangering a huge chunk of the city’s budget for things like transit, infrastructure, and the homeless.

The federal building on Golden Gate Avenue where the US District Court convenes.
Ken Lund

At the time, Judge William H. Orrick ruled that “federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”

Herrera said via a press release on Monday that since then the administration has tried other means of pressuring the city, necessitating another suit.

“[Trump] tried to sneak through a change in the law by burying it deep in his budget,” said Herrera. “Now he’s trying to have one of his departments rewrite the rules. So we’re back in court once again.”

The lawsuit, City of San Francisco vs Jefferson Sessions, alleges that “the Attorney General of the United States seeks to impose two unauthorized and unlawful conditions” on federal grant programs and that the new protocols “could require San Francisco officials to unlawfully hold inmates” in ways that would violate their rights.

The city’s complaint also claims “San Francisco is safer when all people, including undocumented immigrants, feel safe reporting crimes to authorities,” and that turning local cops into de facto immigration agents would harm their ability to work within local communities.