Trump 'stands in solidarity' with Orange County on California sanctuary law

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday extolled a major California county for joining his administration's legal challenge to the state's new limits on how much local police and sheriff's departments support his rigorous deportation policy.

"My Administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California's illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies," Trump wrote in a tweet.

The Justice Department had earlier welcomed the decision by California's third largest county to join its lawsuit challenging the "sanctuary state" law, officially known as SB 54, that Democratic-governed California enacted late last year. The Orange County board of supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to link arms with the administration.

“Orange County’s residents have experienced firsthand the negative effects of SB 54, which mandates releasing criminal aliens back into their communities instead of into the custody of federal immigration authorities," said Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley.

The law bars local law enforcement from supporting Republican Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration with money, facilities and access to people held in custody. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Trump promised to take a tough stance on immigration and refugees. Since taking office he has zealously pursued his promises to construct a wall along the country's border with Mexico and ramp up deportations.

RELATED: Orange County protests California sanctuary policies

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Orange County protests California sanctuary policies
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Orange County protests California sanctuary policies
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: Opposing factions fight for attention as supporter of SB-54 Sheena Innocente addresses board of supervisors on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: People opposing SB-54 celebrate on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: Sheena Innocente shows her support for SB-54 on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: Hammad Alam of Muslim Student association speaks in support of SB-54 on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: People opposing SB-54 celebrate on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: People opposing SB-54 celebrate on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: People opposing SB-54 celebrate on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: People opposing SB-54 celebrate on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California.. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27: Genevieve Peters, opposing SB-54 celebrates on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to condemn the state's sanctuary laws. They also voted to join the Feds in their lawsuit against State of California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27:People opposing sanctuary state at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27:Congressman Dana Rohrabacher at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 27, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27:Residents of Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel protest outside as OC Board of Supervisors discuss tent city for homeless in their community. Later, the Orange County Board of Supervisors rescind its March 19th action to erect tents to temporarily house transients in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 27:Kenneth Batiste very emotionaly fights the case of homeless housing in Orange County. The Orange County Board of Supervisors has voted to rescind its March 19th action to erect tents to temporarily house transients in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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The Justice Department, led by Republican Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has sued cities that officially do not cooperate with federal authorities in order to provide "sanctuary" to immigrants residing within their borders illegally.

In his tweets on Wednesday, Trump said "all citizens have the right to be protected by Federal law and strong borders."

Orange County has long been considered the conservative counterpoint to its liberal neighbor to the north, Los Angeles. In recent years it has shown signs of an identity shift and the lawsuit could underline growing social and political rifts in its seaside cities.

The county supported Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election, the first time it voted for a Democrat since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of its residents were born in another country, and people of Hispanic and Asian origins make up more than half the county's population, according to the U.S. Census. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott)

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