City and county officials from across the state who oppose California’s sanctuary-state law sat down with President Donald Trump Wednesday to voice their objections to the law, and they got a pep talk from the president who slammed the state for failing to crack down on illegal immigration.
The officials, including San Jacinto Mayor Crystal Ruiz and Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson, hailed from counties and cities that have taken stances against the law, some by joining or filing briefs in support of a Trump administration lawsuit challenging it.
“Each of you has bravely resisted California’s deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws,” Trump told the group gathered in Washington, D.C. “You’ve gone through a lot, too, although it’s becoming quite popular what you’re doing. A law that forces the release of illegal immigrant criminals, drug dealers, gang members and violent predators into your communities.
“California’s law provides safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on Earth, like MS-13 gang members putting innocent men, women and children at the mercy of sadistic criminals,” Trump said.
Trump lashed out in particular at the Los Angeles Police Department, saying the agency in January “arrested an illegal immigrant from Mexico for drug possession.”
“Instead of honoring the (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainer, they set him free,” Trump said. “Just a few weeks later, he was arrested again, this time for murder. So they arrested him, they had him, they let him go … and he killed somebody. And it’s happening more and more.”
Trump did not give specifics about the case.
The president then listened as each of the officials attending the meeting praised the work his administration is doing to address illegal immigration and discussed their municipalities’ efforts to challenge the sanctuary state law.
“The fact that we have this unsecured border is putting all of us at risk because we know that terrorists are coming in,” San Juan Capistrano City Councilwoman Pam Patterson said.
Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, whose city’s move to officially oppose the law sparked other conservative-leaning cities and municipalities to do the same, also hailed Trump’s efforts and went so far as to ask for help fending off a lawsuit by the ACLU.
“Coming out first has a price to pay, and the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against us,” Edgar said. “You know, we would really appreciate any direct or indirect funding, any sort of fiscal help you could provide for us.”
Trump assured Edgar that “we’re with you 100 percent” and said “if it’s at all possible” he would like to help the city fight the lawsuit.
Los Alamitos in March approved an ordinance claiming an exemption from the sanctuary state law, which limits cooperation between local authorities and federal immigration officials.
The ACLU sued, arguing the ordinance “authorizes local police officers and school officials, as well as other local officials, to disregard the terms of the Values Act and collaborate with immigration authorities. It is black-letter law that a locality cannot enact an ordinance that conflicts with state law — let alone one that, on its face, authorizes local officials to violate state law. A local ordinance is preempted by state law, and therefore invalid, when it `duplicates, contradicts or enters an area fully occupied by general law, either expressly or by legislative implication.”’
Responding to the meeting, Gov. Jerry Brown wrote on his Twitter page that Trump “is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA. Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world, are not impressed.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan are also expected to attend the meeting, according to the White House.
California leaders attending the meeting with Trump were:
— House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield;
— Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore;
— Councilwoman Pam Patterson, of San Juan Capistrano;
— Mayor Troy Edgar, city of Los Alamitos;
— Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, Barstow;
— Mayor Natasha Johnson, Lake Elsinore;
— Mayor Elaine Gennawey, Laguna Niguel;
— Mayor Crystal Ruiz, San Jacinto;
— Mayor Sam Abed, Escondido;
— Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto, Los Alamitos;
— Sheriff Adam Christianson, Stanislaus County;
— Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County;
— Supervisor Michelle Steel, Orange County;
— Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, San Diego County;
— Deputy Sheriff Ray Grangoff, Orange County; and
— District Attorney Stacey Montgomery, Lassen County.
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