President Donald Trump said he'd consider pulling federal funds from California if it follows up on its threat to become a "sanctuary state."
But, he added in Sunday's interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, he'd rather not be forced to take such a drastic measure.
"I think it's ridiculous — sanctuary cities," Trump said in the interview that aired on the Fox broadcast network ahead of the Super Bowl. "As you know, I'm very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime. There's a lot of problems."
"We give tremendous amounts of money to California. California in many ways is out of control," Trump said.
Asked by O'Reilly if defunding sanctuary cities and states would be his "weapon of choice," Trump replied, "Well, it's a weapon."
He added: "I don't want to defund the state or a city. 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 [are] going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly, that would be a weapon."
Trump made ending sanctuary cities a theme of his campaign, citing the shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco — a sanctuary city — in 2015. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal Mexican immigrant who had been previously deported five times, was charged in her killing and is set for trial this month.
San Francisco sued the Trump administration over his executive order to withhold funds from sanctuary cities in late January, and state lawmakers began debating a bill to declare California a sanctuary state.
The declaration means that local and state authorities would not cooperate with federal immigration officials.
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