Aug. 5 (UPI) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown said he would support his state suing the federal government over the Trump administration's threat to withhold grant money from so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not comply with federal immigration policy.
Brown, speaking in an interview to be aired Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, said legislation being considered in the California Legislature would not make it the nation's first "sanctuary state." Instead, he said the legislation, which he has not decided whether to support, would prevent law enforcement in California from abetting "abuse of federal power."
Earlier this week, the Justice Department repeated a threat to withhold federal grant money to cities that actively try to subvert the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. More than a dozen cities across the country have enacted legislation or drafted policies instructing local police not to question people about their immigration status, and not to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if someone is found to be in the country illegally.
The Trump administration argues such actions put law enforcement officers at risk and protects repeat offenders who could have been deported after their first arrest. Opponents argue the federal government is essentially trying to deputize local law enforcement and that everyday policing is made more difficult when people are afraid to talk to the officers for fear their immigration status will be uncovered.
Brown said the decision over whether to sue the federal government over the issue would be up to his state's attorney general, but having the dispute before a federal judge would accomplish more than "politicians talking past one another."
"I think a few judicious forums to resolve this dispute between the federal government and California - I think - can be very helpful for the whole country, and in a dispassionate way," Brown said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said his city, which has already been flagged by the Justice Department, will file a similar lawsuit next week.