The Trump administration has formally notified the state of California that sanctuary city policies are jeopardizing federal grant funding. It’s the first concrete action the federal government has taken to withhold funds since President Trump signed his executive order targeting sanctuary cities in January. There’s relatively little money at stake so far.
The Justice Department letter warns California that it stands to lose last year’s Byrne-JAG grant, $18 million that helps fund local and state law enforcement agencies. That’s a tiny fraction of the billions of dollars that make up California city and county budgets.
The grant is also likely one of only three the federal government can currently withhold from sanctuary cities. Justice department attorneys acknowledged that last week in court, when they were defending the executive order from lawsuits brought by San Francisco and Santa Clara County.
Meanwhile, the leader of California's state Senate is rejecting notification.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon says the Trump administration is basing its policies on "principles of white supremacy" and not American values.
De Leon has authored a bill that would make California a sanctuary state.
He says the administration's targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will continue to be challenged.
To legally stop more grants would likely require acts of Congress.