Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Santa Ana is prepared to fight Sessions over sanctuary city status

by Take Two®

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik/AP

In the face of threats from the U.S. Justice Department, Santa Ana leaders say they will not back down on their policy for dealing with undocumented immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that his department will withhold federal funds from any community that doesn't voluntarily cooperate with immigration officials.

Santa Ana is one of those cities — a so-called sanctuary city.

"It came as no surprise," Councilman Sal Tinajero said. "I think [the administration's announcement] was a political reaction to a major loss that the president had the week before."

Tinajero said Santa Ana gives the federal government information about specific undocumented immigrants if federal agency asks for it, as is required by U.S. law.

But that same law doesn't compel cities to provide voluntarily any information it has on someone in the country illegally.

"That's what makes us a sanctuary city," Tinajero said. "You have to prove that we have not been in compliance with that law, and the city of Santa Ana has been in compliance from Day 1."

Legal expert Hiroshi Motomura from UCLA agreed.

"I'm sure the administration would wish that a stronger law had been written, but it wasn't," Motomura said.

But if the federal government decides to pull grants from Santa Ana, Tinajero said the city will be ready for a legal fight.

"It would be about a $7 million hit," he said, noting that it would affect things like gang prevention programs and prison staffing.

However, the city has about $51 million in reserves to help fund those programs during a protracted court battle.

"So, we're prepared to offset some of those costs," Tinajero said.

Hear more of the interview by clicking the blue audio player above.

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