The officials represented counties and cities that have taken stances against the law, some by joining or filing briefs in support of a Trump administration lawsuit challenging it.
“Each of you has bravely resisted California’s deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws,” Trump told the group. “You’ve gone through a lot, too, although it’s becoming quite popular what you’re doing.”
“California’s law provides safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on Earth, like MS-13 gang members putting innocent men, women and children at the mercy of sadistic criminals,” Trump claimed.
The president then listened as each of the officials attending the meeting praised the work his administration is doing to address illegal immigration and discussed their municipalities’ efforts to challenge the sanctuary state law.
“The fact that we have this unsecured border is putting all of us at risk because we know that terrorists are coming in,” San Juan Capistrano City Councilwoman Pam Patterson said.
“Incredible moment being able to speak directly to the President of the United States, the Attorney General & Homeland Security Secretary about the devastating impact sanctuary state laws are having on CA & the safety of our residents,” Gaspar tweeted after the meeting. “I will not back down & I will keep fighting!”
Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, whose city’s move to officially oppose Senate Bill 54 sparked other conservative-leaning cities and municipalities to do the same, also hailed Trump’s efforts and went so far as to ask for help fending off a lawsuit by the ACLU.
“Coming out first has a price to pay, and the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against us,” Edgar said. “You know, we would really appreciate any direct or indirect funding, any sort of fiscal help you could provide for us.”
Trump assured Edgar that “we’re with you 100 percent” and said “if it’s at all possible” he would like to help the city fight the lawsuit.
Gov. Jerry Brown used his Twitter page to accuse Trump of lying about both immigration and the facts of California’s sanctuary law.
???? @realDonaldTrump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA. Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world, are not impressed.
— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) May 16, 2018
After the meeting, Abed told Fox News that Escondido had worked with Immigration and Customers Enforcement to deport more than 2,700 people since he became mayor. He said the city is safer as a result.
Other California leaders attending the meeting with Trump were:
- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield
- Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, Lake Elsinore
- Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, Barstow
- Mayor Natasha Johnson, Lake Elsinore
- Mayor Elaine Gennawey, Laguna Niguel
- Mayor Crystal Ruiz, San Jacinto
- Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto, Los Alamitos
- Sheriff Adam Christianson, Stanislaus County
- Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County
- Supervisor Michelle Steel, Orange County
- Deputy Sheriff Ray Grangoff, Orange County
- District Attorney Stacey Montgomery, Lassen County
On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council broke with the county and voted to support California’s sanctuary laws.
Supporters of the law believe it makes immigrants who are living in the country illegally more likely to report crime and cooperate in law-enforcement investigations. But opponents say it stifles federal efforts to detain criminals.
City News Service contributed to this article.