The White House continued its public feud with the state of California this week as President Donald Trump planned his first trip in office to the state his administration is suing over its immigration policy.
In court filings announced earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice named state officials including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra in its complaint that three recent laws are unconstitutional and impede the mission of federal immigration agents.
Tough rhetoric from the administration continued Monday when an unnamed official offered a staggering rebuke of policies in so-called sanctuary cities that serve to protect illegal immigrants from detention or deportation.
“We’re giving them a selling point,” the Trump administration said in claiming such policies benefit human smugglers. “We’re lining their pockets.”
The official told The New York Times that those responsible for such policies are “bankrolling the very criminal organizations that can smuggle terrorists, that smuggle weapons, that smuggle drugs and have killed border agents.”
Those comments, published the day before Trump was set to travel to California, furthered an ongoing and often contentious public debate between D.C. and the deep-blue state.
Brown and other prominent Californians have shot back in response to the recent lawsuit. As the Sacramento Bee reported, the governor reacted to the lawsuit with a statement aimed directly at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here,” he wrote. “SAD!!!”
Trump, whose California visit was billed as an opportunity for him to visit prototype samples of the border wall he has promised since early in his presidential campaign to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, used the opportunity to attack the state’s leaders.
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While in the state Tuesday, the president mentioned Brown directly, accusing the governor of doing a “very poor job” leading the state.
Other California Democrats, including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have promised to continue resisting the federal government’s directive on matters of immigration.
Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas D. Homan took exception to Pelosi’s assertion in a tweet that what she called a “sham lawsuit” was one of the federal government’s “cowardly attacks” on immigration populations living in the U.S.
“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 hop every day to defend this nation,” he said.
“That’s the farthest thing from cowardice you’re going to see,” he added.
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