President Donald Trump said Thursday he would consider ordering a withdrawal of immigration enforcement agents from California, leaving the state’s pro-sanctuary officials to “figure it out for themselves.”
California became a sanctuary state at the beginning of the year thanks to a wide-ranging law that prevents police from asking people about their immigration status or participating in most federal immigration enforcement actions.
“Frankly, it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation, the protection of these horrible criminals,” Trump told reporters. “If we ever pulled our ICE out, 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, they would be begging.”
“And you know what, I’m thinking about doing it,” he added.
Under Gov. Jerry Brown, California has become the leading opponent of Trump’s immigration agenda. In addition to the sanctuary state law, Sacramento has passed a slate of bills aimed at protecting illegal immigrants and their children from the administration’s tougher enforcement of immigration laws.
The Trump administration says California’s refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities puts communities in danger and forces ICE agents to arrest criminal aliens in courthouses and other “sensitive” locations. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said in January California should “hold on tight,” warning state officials that if they “don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.”
Trump mused Thursday that he might take the opposite approach to show California politicians how much the state depends on immigration agents for public safety.
“I mean frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen in California,” he said. “All I’d have to do is to say ‘ICE and Border Patrol, let California alone.’ You’d be inundated, you would see crime like no one’s ever seen crime in this country.”