Taking their disagreement to the national stage, Sessions and Becerra appeared live but in separate interviews on the ABC-TV news show “This Week,” hosted by George Stephanopoulos.
Becerra said on Friday that threats to withhold federal funds from states and cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities are reckless and undermine public safety.
“It's nothing reckless,” Sessions said when asked about Becerra’s comments. “It's nothing extreme about saying if someone comes through our country unlawfully and commits a crime, another crime in the country, that they should be deported. That's what the law says.”
State and local governments are not allowed by federal law to prohibit their law enforcement officers from sharing information with the federal government, Sessions said.
“In other words, if a person commits a crime in Los Angeles or in the case of Kate Steinle, San Francisco, and an individual there is released multiple times and he comes back to San Francisco because it's a sanctuary city and commits a murder, that's the kind of situation that that person should have been deported previously and not allowed to return,” Sessions said.
Becerra said Sunday that California is ready to fight any attempt to withhold federal funds.
"Whoever wants to come at us, that's hostility, we'll be ready," Becerra said. "We're going to continue to abide by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. And we're hoping the federal government will also abide by the U.S. Constitution, which gives my state the right to decide how to do public safety.”
The state attorney general was skeptical about comments by President Trump in recent days that so-called Dreamers —young immigrants brought to this country illegally by a parent — will not be targeted for immigration enforcement.
“It's not clear what we can trust, what statement we can believe in, and that causes a great deal of not just anxiety, but confusion — not just for those immigrant families, but for our law enforcement personnel,” Becerra said.
He also denounced the Trump proposal to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “medieval solution” to immigration issues, adding that neither U.S. taxpayers nor Mexico want to pay for the proposal.