Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents parts of San Diego and Orange counties, took questions from a sometimes raucous crowd Saturday.
He kicked off the town hall meeting in front of a packed room at San Juan Hills High School, in San Juan Capistrano. The region is known for being Republican leaning, offering a warmer reception to Rep. Issa than he could expect from other areas in the strongly Democratic state of California.
Some of the questions to Issa addressed immigration and the fear among those who are in the country illegally.
“I’m tired of people being afraid when that’s not what America’s about. We need to fix the system,” Issa said. “That include recognizing that a lot of people that are here are for jobs that we must fill either with immigrants or with guest workers.”
The primary job of local law enforcement should not be to determine if someone is in the country legally or illegally, Issa said to cheers from the crowd. He said crime victims and witnesses should not be asked where they come from.
“When someone is a perpetrator, when they’ve been arrested, when they have gone through the process, then, before they are released we should give ICE and other agencies the opportunity to see whether or not they need to be released in the U.S. or released in their country of origin,” Issa said.
When the topic turned to President Trump, the Republican was asked why his party does not stand up to him and hold him accountable.
“Now that he’s the president, I have to hold him accountable and this administration accountable,” Issa said. “Would I like to have him put away his phone … would I like to take back the statements he’s made that are very difficult when we’re working with our allies and tough relationships including dealing with the immigration issue with our Mexican partners? … Yes.”
Issa said he is confident that the current investigation will get to the bottom of allegations of possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign, and added that former FBI director Robert Mueller has everything he needs to complete the investigation.
“Russia has been an evil empire since before (President) Reagan coined that term and (President Vladimir) Putin has now a decade plus of being an evil leader,” Issa said. “So, I don’t want to hear from anybody that this is a Republican problem or a Democratic problem. It’s not.”
Other topics discussed during the two-hour event included the U.S. backing out of the Paris climate agreement, proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, health care reform, energy and the Electoral College.
City News Service contributed to this post.