Don’t mess with the West

State lawmakers stand up to Trump’s hollow threats to pull federal funding

President Trump is known for going on the defensive, and apparently he’s feeling threatened by the Golden State. In remarks he made this week to Bill O’Reilly during an interview on Fox News, the president called California “out of control.” He was discussing sanctuary cities— municipalities that refuse to uphold federal immigration orders.

On Monday (Feb. 5), state lawmakers introduced a bill that effectively would implement the sanctuary city model statewide, making California, as conservative commentator O’ Reilly put it, “a sanctuary state.” Under the bill, California and local law enforcement departments would be barred from using their staff or facilities to comply with federal immigration policy. In response, Trump, who was trounced by Hillary Clinton in the general election in the state, threatened to pull federal funding should California move forward on that front.

Trump didn’t get specific on what type of funds he would attempt to withhold, but his threat rings hollow. Congress is the authority over budget allocations, not the White House. Moreover, while the GOP-held House may not agree with California’s stance, federal lawmakers understand that states have the right to craft their own public safety policies.

Congress also knows better than to play hardball with a state that’s the sixth largest economy in the world—California ranks just above France and below the United Kingdom—and responsible for 13 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

State Democrats fired back at Trump, saying, among other things, that California is growing jobs “faster than any other state and immigrants are key to our economic prosperity.” That’s a partial quote from Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, who joins other high-ranking officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, in opposition to many of Trump’s baseless threats. The message: Don’t mess with the West.