Trump suggests coronavirus funding for states could be tied to sanctuary city policies

Trump suggests coronavirus funding for states could be tied to sanctuary city policies
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE on Tuesday suggested that federal assistance to states financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak could be tied to whether so-called sanctuary cities make adjustments to their immigration policies.

The comments from Trump came as both Republican and Democratic governors plead for more funding for their states, warning that budget shortfalls could lead to pay cuts for public sector employees such as teachers and police officers.

Trump said at a White House news conference that he's hesitant about granting federal aid to states because he doesn't want money going to local governments that he considers to have been run poorly.

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"We’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and give them the money that they lost. That’s unfair to other states," Trump said, adding that he was open to discussions about financial assistance only if it was related to the coronavirus. 

"But we’d want certain things also, including sanctuary-city adjustments," he continued. "People are being protected that shouldn’t be protected. And a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities... If we’re going to do something for the states, I think we probably want something having to do with sanctuary cities."

Sanctuary cities generally refuse to cooperate with the federal government's enforcement of immigration laws. Trump has repeatedly denounced the cities, often citing them as examples of what he calls Democrats' ineffective approach to immigration.

Trump said in early March that he'd begin withholding money from jurisdictions who offer a safe haven for undocumented immigrants after a federal court ruled he could do so. 

"We cannot allow the Trump administration to exploit a public health crisis to further their anti-immigrant agenda," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a tweet following the president's latest comments. 

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Democratic lawmakers and governors are aggressively pushing for Congress to include some form of assistance to states in the next coronavirus relief bill. 

Congress allocated $150 billion to states in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month. But state leaders say that it's not nearly enough to address their budget deficits. The National Governors Association (NGA), chaired by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), has called for Congress to provide them with a combined $500 billion.  

Republican leaders have expressed wariness about the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) last week suggested allowing states to declare bankruptcy instead, prompting outrage from numerous state and federal officials.

McConnell said in an interview on Fox News Radio on Monday that Congress would "probably" pass additional funding for state and local governments in upcoming bills, but he emphasized that Republicans do not want to help states with overstretched state pension programs.

The comments came just hours after Trump questioned why taxpayers should be bailing out states and cities run by Democrats, specifically targeting Illinois. 

"Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?" he tweeted Monday. "I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?"