California, San Francisco join legal fight over sanctuary cities

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On Friday, San Francisco sued the Justice Department to declare the grant conditions unconstitutional, and Becerra announced that the state will file its own companion lawsuit Monday.

At least six so-called sanctuary cities are suing the USA government, over immigration-related policies to avoid losing millions in public safety dollars the Trump administration has threatened to withhold.

"Sanctuary" is used for cities that do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one's immigration status, or for funds to be applied to enforce federal immigration laws.

While not a technical term, "sanctuary cities" are places that have refused to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after detaining undocumented immigrants. In that 46-page complaint, Emanuel claimed the DOJ, under the stewardship of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, wants to slap unfair conditions on the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, a long-running federal crime prevention grant.

Chicago filed a similar lawsuit last week, arguing that the Trump administration's bid to withhold public safety grants from so-called sanctuary cities is illegal.

"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" the press release cited Recerra's words, "We will fight these unlawful federal actions that would make California less safe".

Baltimore and others are trying to prove to the White House they aren't sanctuary cities and qualify for crime-fighting help.

The lawsuits come in response to a new tactic by Sessions' Justice Department to withhold federal law enforcement grants until sanctuary cities and states comply with the president's orders to aid in immigration enforcement - a threat that could mean the loss of over $28 million to California law enforcement agencies, and $1.4 million for San Francisco.

"It's a low blow to our men and women who wear the badge, for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement", the attorney general said at a San Francisco news conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on January 25 seeking to withhold federal funding for so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions". We stopped him in court.

"We're in the public safety business", Becerra added, "We're not in the deportation business".

Herrera said there are several problems with the conditions. Now he's trying to have one of his departments rewrite the rules.

Herrera compares these methods by the president to "burning a mountain of coal in the name of environmental protection", and calls them "a backdoor attempt to coerce states and local governments to carry out federal immigration enforcement".

Calls to the DOJ for comment on the California suit were not immediately returned.

"The people of San Francisco know all too well the pain and suffering associated with the tragedy resulting from local jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities", the DOJ said in a statement.

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