On Thursday, President Donald Trump said that he may pull out federal immigration from California, having expressed frustration over the Golden State’s sanctuary policy regarding illegal aliens. “If we ever said, ‘Hey, let California alone let them figure it out for themselves,’ in two months they’d be begging for us to come back,” Trump said during an event at the White House on law enforcement issues. “They would be begging. And you know what? I’m thinking about doing it.”
In January, California became the nation’s first “sanctuary state,” whereby local and state police are prohibited by law from asking people about their immigration status. They are also prohibited by state law from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement actions in most cases.
Trump said, during a discussion about school safety, that members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) narco-terrorist organization are returning to California despite being deported by federal authorities. "These are absolutely animals, these aren't human beings, these are animals," Trump said. Trump said that "while we're getting MS-13 out by the thousands," members of the gang still infiltrate through the border. "They're smart," Trump said. "They actually have franchises going to Los Angeles."
Saying that California does a bad job of managing crime, despite having "the highest taxes in the nation," Trump warned, “We’re getting no help from the state of California. Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen. All I’d have to do is say, ‘ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Border Patrol, let California alone,’ You’d be inundated, you would see crime like nobody’s ever seen crime in this country.”
Trump angrily said that he would withdraw immigration and border control enforcement agencies from California because of what he called its "protection of horrible criminals." Crime would explode in California, he predicted, if he pulls out ICE and the Border Patrol. California would soon beg for their return, he said. Making an apparent gibe at Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the law, the president said, “They are doing a lousy management job there. They have the highest taxes in the nation. And they don’t know what’s happening out there. Frankly, it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation.”
During a press briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah would not rule out Trump taking action. “I wouldn’t get ahead of anything the president might do,” he said. Shah said that decisions by California’s governor and other officials were “very troubling.” “We think that the sanctuary cities are a threat to the public safety and encourage more illegal immigration,” he said. “So I think the president was raising that concern and making a very valid point.”
Trump’s warning came just a week after a five-day immigration raid in the Los Angeles area that resulted in more than 200 arrests and 122 notices of inspection for local businesses.
California Gov. Jerry Brown responded to the president. In a written statement to CNBC, Brown said, "In California we protect all of our people from criminals and gangs, as well as dangerous assault weapons. We do our job Mr. President, you do yours."
Brown has said that the sanctuary bill bans what he regards as unconstitutional detainer requests, prohibits the “commandeering” of state and local officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. However, he claims that the California law does not prohibit ICE or the Department of Homeland Security from doing its job.