Trump rails against California for its immigration policies
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump today hammered California for its so-called sanctuary immigration policies, in what appeared to be his latest push to embolden his base leading into the midterm elections.
As the debate over immigration heats up on Capitol Hill, Trump surrounded himself with mayors, sheriffs and other local leaders from California who oppose the state's immigration policies and who applauded his administration's hard-line efforts.
"This is your Republican resistance right here against what they're doing in California," said California Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, co-opting a term used by Democrats opposed to Trump's presidency. She, like others, said the president and his policies were far more popular in the state than people realize.
"It's a crisis," Melendez said of the situation.
They were responding to legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that bars police from asking people about their immigration status or helping federal agents with immigration enforcement.
Jail officials can transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one of about 800 crimes, mostly felonies, but not for minor offenses.
Brown insists the legislation, which took effect Jan. 1, doesn't prevent federal immigration officials from doing their jobs. But the Trump administration has sued to reverse it, calling the policies unconstitutional and dangerous. Some counties, including San Diego and Orange, have voted to support the lawsuit or passed their own anti-sanctuary resolutions.
Republicans see backlash to the law as a potentially galvanizing issue during the midterm elections, especially with Trump's anti-immigrant base. And Trump has had numerous events in recent months during which he's drawn attention to California's policies.
During the session, Trump thanked the officials, saying they had "bravely resisted California's deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws." He claimed those laws are forcing "the release of illegal immigrant criminals, drug dealers, gang members and violent predators into your communities" and providing "safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on earth."