Trump Says He May Pull Immigration Enforcement From California

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he’s considering pulling federal immigration enforcement agents out of California, which declared itself a so-called sanctuary state and limits local police cooperation with U.S. authorities enforcing the president’s immigration policies.

“Frankly, it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation,” Trump said at the White House. If the administration were to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials from California, the state would be “begging” for them to come back, he said. “I’m thinking about doing it.”

The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have been stepping up their fight against cities and states that limit their cooperation with federal authorities on immigration. The Justice Department last month demanded that almost two dozen cities, counties and states — from New York City to California — prove that they’re sharing information about people in the country illegally or risk subpoenas and cuts in public-safety grants.

Just last month ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said he planned to send additional ICE agents and deportation agents into California in response to the state’s sanctuary policies. 

“California better hold on tight,” Homan said on Fox News last month. “They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.”

California became a sanctuary state last October, along with several of its cities and counties. Under laws signed by Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, federal immigration officials must produce a warrant to gain access to California work sites, and the state bars employers from sharing confidential employee information such as Social Security numbers without a subpoena. State and local law enforcement officials can’t use their resources to aid in federal immigration enforcement, but they also can’t stand in their way.

The Trump administration says it’s a matter of maintaining public safety. Trump campaigned for the White House denouncing “weak and foolish policies” that he said let criminals into the country and then failed to deport them. Among cases he publicized was the death of Kathryn Steinle, who was shot in San Francisco in 2015 by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported multiple times.

“In California, we protect all of our people from criminals and gangs, as well as dangerous assault weapons,” Brown, the governor, said in a statement Thursday. “We do our job Mr. President, you do yours.”

A spokeswoman for ICE referred questions about ICE to the White House. A White House spokeswoman referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, which houses ICE, and the Department of Justice. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

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