President Trump meets with state opponents of California’s sanctuary laws on May 16, 2018, at the White House. (White House video)

Trump Talks ‘Rebellion’ Against California Sanctuary State Laws with Opponents

President Trump gathered California sanctuary status opponents and homeland security officials at the White House today for a roundtable on official resistance to “deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws.”

Ten counties and three dozen cities in conservative parts of the Golden State have sided with the White House over the statewide sanctuary bill signed in October. The law blocks state law enforcement officers from asking about an individual’s immigration status, participating in federal immigration enforcement operations, or making arrests based on civil immigration warrants.

Many jurisdictions in California, including major cities Los Angeles and San Francisco, already had their own sanctuary policies in place.

The Justice Department sued California in March over the policies that they contend hamper federal law enforcement.

The White House meeting included House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose district includes Bakersfield, and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R), whose district encompasses part of Riverside County. It was rounded out with a handful of mayors and a handful of sheriffs, and a couple of county supervisors.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals,” Trump said after a sheriff mentioned she would be unable to communicate with ICE about a potential MS-13 gang member. “And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.”

Trump said that California’s “attempts to nullify federal law have sparked a rebellion by patriotic citizens who want their families protected and their borders secured.”

“They want border security. They want protection. That’s what we’re all about,” he added. “We’re about protection, both from international and from, frankly, people crossing our border illegally.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown, not present at the meeting but invoked plenty of times, said in a statement afterward that “Trump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of California.”

“Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing,” he said. “We, the citizens of the fifth-largest economy in the world, are not impressed.”

At the meeting, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan called sanctuary jurisdictions “just backwards” because “even though they violate federal law to keep criminal aliens in, they don’t want a wall to keep them out.”

“When you release a criminal alien from a jail, they’re going to go to the very communities in which they live and reoffend. Anybody can Google recidivism rates. Over half reoffend the first year against the very immigrant communities in which they live. So you’re not protecting the immigrant community. You’re putting them at greater risk of crime,” Homan said. “And when you force an ICE agent, where he can take someone — the custody of somebody in the safety and security of a county jail and force them into neighborhoods, you put our officers at risk. You’re already putting the public at risk. And we’re going to find others who weren’t even on our radar. So you put the community at greater risk of crime, you put them at greater risk of ICE arrest, and you put the heroes — the law enforcement officers — at great risk.”

Homan, who is retiring but told Trump he’s “not leaving the fight,” reiterated how he’s “sick and tired of the constant vilification” of ICE and the Border Patrol.

“ICE does more to protect the immigrant than any politician ever has done,” he argued. “…For all these people who want to keep vilifying the men and women who took a sworn oath, who are enforcing laws enacted by you, Congress, the next time you think about vilifying the men and women of ICE, I want you to do what I did this week. I want you to go to our National Law Enforcement wall, I want you to walk that wall, and read the names on that wall: over 400 Border Patrol agents and ICE officers whose hearts stopped beating defending this nation.”

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a weekly columnist for the New York Observer and a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and Washington Bureau Chief for PJ Media. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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