Updated Monday, 11:50 a.m.
President Trump says California is “out of control in many ways” and that he’d consider “defunding” the state in response to efforts to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.
The president didn’t respond specifically to O’Reilly’s prompting about California becoming a “sanctuary state,” but reiterated his opposition to sanctuary cities and repeated unsupported claims that such cities “breed crime.”
San Francisco, in the forefront of the sanctuary movement, has sued to overturn a Trump executive order that would strip federal funding from communities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
In passing, Trump remarked that “we give tremendous amounts of money to California.” Indeed, the Los Angeles Times reported on a study from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office that found California got about $368 billion in annual federal spending in recent years.
The bulk of that cash comes in the form of Social Security and Medicare payments to individual Californians, the LAO noted. The Times also noted that the most current analysis suggests California actually sends more to the federal government than it gets back — with 99 cents in payments for every dollar the state and its residents sent to Washington, D.C.
State Sen. President pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, was among California officials denouncing Trump’s threat, issuing a statement promising to fight any attempt to take away federal funds from the state.
“Far from being ‘out of control,’ California is creating jobs faster than other states and immigrants are key to our economic prosperity,” de León said. “We are an engine for the country’s innovation and job growth, and our state annually pays more in federal taxes than it gets back. Our economy is the sixth largest in the world and 13 percent of the country’s GDP. So any pain the President wants to cause in California will ripple nationwide.
“President Trump’s threat to weaponize federal funding is not only unconstitutional but emblematic of the cruelty he seeks to impose on our most vulnerable communities. Taking such irresponsible action would hurt our senior citizens, children, farmers, and veterans — these are not political games, these are real lives the President is targeting.
Here’s the transcript of the O’Reilly-Trump exchange on California:
O’Reilly: I just spent the week in California. As you know, they are now voting on whether they should become a sanctuary state. So California and the USA are on a collision course. How do you see it?
Trump: Well, I think it’s ridiculous — sanctuary cities. As you know, I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime, there’s a lot of problems. If we have to, we’ll defund. We give tremendous amounts of money to California. California …
O’Reilly: So you are going to defund. …
Trump: California is in many ways out of control, as you know. Obviously, the voters agree, otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.
O’Reilly: So defunding is your weapon of choice. …
Trump: Well, it’s a weapon. I don’t want to defund a state or a city. …
O’Reilly: But you’re willing to do it.
Trump: … I don’t want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.