Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez Proposes Bill to Separate Localities from State in Sanctuary Feud

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez Monday proposed legislation that would permit counties throughout California to forgo implementation of any state law that could result in the loss of federal money, which a "sanctuary state" bill put forward in response to President Donald Trump's immigration policies could trigger.

"Sacramento Democrats are jeopardizing hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to score political points while endangering those they've been elected to represent," said Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

"A majority of this funding goes to vital services that protect the most vulnerable citizens in our society."

Melendez's Assembly Bill 536 would create an "opt-out" provision in all acts of the Legislature that could lead to a cut-off in federal funds to counties, allowing them to instead negotiate their own earmarks and bypass state agencies altogether.

AB 536 is in direct response to Senate Bill 54, proposed last month by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.

The measure would bar state and local law enforcement agencies from providing any assistance to federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration law, including "giving immigration authorities access to interview individuals in custody for immigration enforcement purposes."

De Leon has joined Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democratic colleagues in vociferous opposition to Trump's vow to enforce federal statutes and deport foreigners not legally admitted to the U.S.

De Leon said the administration's policies will create a "dragnet for thousands, if not millions, of hardworking immigrants." He acknowledged that "half my family" could be subject to deportation for having false documents related to their residency.

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Trump recently called California "out of control" and suggested he would be willing to withhold federal assistance to deter sanctuary policies.

"When Democrats introduce obstructionist legislation, they don't speak for the Californians in my district," Melendez said. "We need the federal funding, and we don't want to pay new taxes to make up for their mistakes and misguided laws."

According to Melendez, California receives $368 billion in federal appropriations annually in support of healthcare, social welfare, transportation, prisons, affordable housing, homeless shelters and law enforcement.

Funds are meted out to local governing bodies to cover mandated programs, as well as pay for other commitments. In Riverside County, federal allocations have funded public safety equipment, airport upgrades, veterans services, property acquisitions and environmental cleanups.

Melendez complained that "Democrats began waging a political war" against Trump within days of his election.

"There are real issues at stake in California," Melendez said. "The Democrats need to accept the results of the election and learn to work with our new president."

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