Trump to Fox News: I may defund California as 'a weapon' to fight illegal immigration

President Donald Trump meets with executives and union representatives from the Harley Davidson company at the White House on February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald Trump is prepared to deprive the State of California of federal funding if it votes to become a sanctuary state, he said in a Fox News interview.

"If we have to, we'll defund," he said. "We give tremendous amounts of money to California."

California Democrats in the Senate stepped up their fight against the president last week, advancing legislation that would provide statewide sanctuary for immigrants and keep local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities.

The president told Fox he is very much opposed to sanctuary cities, which he called "ridiculous."

"They breed crime, there's a lot of problems," he said.

In a 2016 analysis by WalletHub that ranked most and least federally dependent states, the Golden State came in at number 46 on the list.

However, the University of California receives at least $9 billion in an assortment of grants, financial aid and research—all of which could be imperiled if Trump made good on a threat he made last week to deprive the university of funds in response to protests that roiled the school.

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California is "out of control" in many ways, and voters agree "otherwise they wouldnt have voted for me," he added. Trump lost California, which leans left politically, by a wide margin to former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"I don't want to defund the state or city, I don't want to defund anybody, I want to give them the money they need to properly operate a city or a state," Trump said.

That said, "if they're going to have sanctuary cities we may have to do that - certainly that would be a weapon."

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