The Trump administration on Monday accused the California state officials of “bankrolling” criminal human smuggling rings via so-called sanctuary policies.
On the eve of President Trump’s first visit to the state since taking office, his administration took another shot at California lawmakers who have pledged to fight a federal lawsuit against new state laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally. Administration officials said those laws and policies endanger federal agents and make immigrant communities less safe.
“We’re giving them a selling point,” said an administration official. “We’re lining their pockets. Sanctuary cities are bankrolling the very criminal organizations that can smuggle terrorists, that smuggle weapons, that smuggle drugs and have killed border patrol agents.”
Last week, the Trump administration filed suit against California challenging a new state law that restricts how and when state law enforcement can interact with federal immigration authorities.
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California Gov. Jerry Brown promised not to back down in face of the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!,” Brown said in a statement.
The rhetoric on the issue has only gotten more pointed since. Acting ICE Director Tom Homan on Monday took specific aim at lawmakers like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein.
Pelosi had vowed on Wednesday to fight the administration's efforts, promising Californians would not cave to "intimidation tactics."
"We will fight this sham lawsuit and will fight all cowardly attacks on our immigrant communities," Pelosi tweeted.
Homan then shot back that the work of Border Patrol and ICE agents is the “farthest thing from cowardice you’re going to see.”
“To call what we do cowardly acts on immigrant community, you’re talking about law enforcement people that get up every day and leave the safety and security of their home and their families and strap a gun to their hip every day to defend this nation. That’s the farthest thing from cowardice you’re going to see.”
White House officials insisted sanctuary laws actually endanger officers’ lives and immigrant communities by putting dangers immigrants back on the streets. They say the laws also force ICE officers into more dangerous operations where they have to confront those they’re seeking in the community where they could have greater access to weapons.