President Donald Trump met on Wednesday with leaders from the state of California who oppose the state’s sanctuary city laws. The laws keep local law enforcement from using funds and personnel to investigate and detain suspected illegal immigrants. Authorities are prohibited from even asking someone about their immigration status. Among the president’s guests was Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims who voiced her frustration. The Hill quotes Mims as saying, “There can be an MS-13 gang member, if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I can’t tell [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] about them.” Trump responded by blaming U.S. laws that he said are “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world” and by saying of the gang members who are deported,
“These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a rate that’s never happened before.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also in attendance. At one point the president suggested that Sessions investigate whether charges for obstruction of justice could be made against Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 that denies federal money to sanctuary cities and directs the attorney general to take legal action against them, including the possibility of removing legal protection from undocumented immigrants. In November, a district judge declared the order unconstitutional. Time reports that the Justice Department sued the state of California in March for violating immigration laws. In today’s meeting he attacked California’s immigration policy as providing “safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on earth.”
Multiple cities in California oppose the state’s position and laws related to immigration and have taken action to make their voices heard. NBC Los Angeles reports that Orange County passed an ordinance in March that exempts them from Senate Bill 54 that limits cooperation of local and state officials with federal immigration authorities. Newport Beach, Orange, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Fountain Valley, San Juan Capistrano, and Yorba Linda have all voted to oppose California’s sanctuary city laws.
California Governor Jerry Brown took to Twitter Wednesday to speak out against President Trump’s meeting, saying he has lied about California’s laws, immigration, and crime. He cited his state as the fifth largest economy in the world and described today’s meeting as “Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies.”