Mayor’s tip-off es­ca­lates Trump-state squab­ble

Cal­i­for­nia takes own im­mi­gra­tion path

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sim­mer­ing feud with Cal­i­for­nia has turned into all-out war­fare over im­mi­gra­tion af­ter Oak­land’s mayor warned il­le­gal im­mi­grants this week of loom­ing sweeps — lead­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity’s de­por­ta­tion chief to ac­cuse her of en­dan­ger­ing her city and his of­fi­cers.

An­a­lysts said there was no com­par­i­son in re­cent mem­ory for the sort of bad blood that’s de­vel­oped be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and Cal­i­for­nia’s lead­ers, who have leg­is­lated, sued, tweeted and used just about ev­ery other tool at their dis­posal to try to stymie the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Things grew par­tic­u­larly tense this week with Oak­land Mayor Libby Schaaf’s warn­ing to her city’s il­le­gal im­mi­grants that U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment was con­duct­ing a ma­jor op­er­a­tion in the Bay Area.

ICE Deputy Di­rec­tor Thomas D. Ho­man com­pared her to a gang snitch on the look­out for po­lice, and said more than 800 crim­i­nal mi­grants es­caped the sweep — some of them al­most cer­tainly alerted by Ms. Schaaf’s warn­ing.

“This is be­yond the pale,” Mr. Ho­man said on Fox News.

Cal­i­for­nia is just one of the states vy­ing for ti­tle of chief of the anti-Trump re­sis­tance. New York is also in the run­ning, along with Hawaii, each of which have led ma­jor law­suits against the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But Cal­i­for­nia’s re­sis­tance is broader and deeper, in­clud­ing a statewide sanc­tu­ary law that took ef­fect Jan. 1, and law­suits against Mr. Trump’s sanc­tu­ary-city crack­down, his bor­der wall plans and his phase-out of the Obama-era De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals de­por­ta­tion amnesty.

In the early rounds of the le­gal bat­tle, Cal­i­for­nia has scored vic­to­ries on DACA and sanc­tu­ary pol­icy, while the pres­i­dent won the first skir­mish over the bor­der wall this week.

That loss prompted state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra to fire back, call­ing the wall “me­dieval” and promis­ing to “do what is nec­es­sary” to stop con­struc­tion.

Mr. Be­cerra also backed up Ms. Schaaf in her bat­tle with ICE, tweet­ing that the law en­force­ment agency had crossed lines.

“It’s be­com­ing sadly clearer that #ICE is los­ing its fo­cus on #im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment: rather than fo­cus on peo­ple who are dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals, we hear ICE may be ter­ror­iz­ing com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing fam­ily mem­bers who are cit­i­zens,” said Mr. Be­cerra, a Demo­crat and for­mer mem­ber of Con­gress.

The pres­i­dent has got­ten per­son­ally in­volved in the fight.

Last week, while talk­ing with of­fi­cials about ways to com­bat gun vi­o­lence in the wake of the Florida school shoot­ing, Mr. Trump sin­gled out Cal­i­for­nia as do­ing a “lousy man­age­ment job” in fight­ing crime.

He threat­ened to pull fed­eral law en­force­ment from the state — specif­i­cally men­tion­ing ICE per­son­nel and Bor­der Pa­trol agents. He said he’s “think­ing about do­ing it.”

“You would see crime like no­body has ever seen crime in this coun­try. And yet we get no help from the state of Cal­i­for­nia,” he said. “They have the high­est taxes in the na­tion. And they don’t know what’s hap­pen­ing out there. Frankly, it’s a dis­grace.”

On Wed­nes­day, the pres­i­dent took to Twit­ter to say he was sus­pend­ing parts of the bor­der wall that Cal­i­for­nia wants built un­til the full wall is ap­proved. He did not elab­o­rate on that threat.

His own ad­min­is­tra­tion seemed un­sure of what to make of the new or­ders, and said as far as they know noth­ing has changed.

“ICE is con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tions,” said Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman Tyler Q. Houl­ton.

Mr. Houl­ton also said new fence con­struc­tion in Calex­ico, Cal­i­for­nia, is pro­ceed­ing.

“The fund­ing has al­ready been put in place so that’s a con­gres­sional thing,” he said.

Fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents also scoffed at the idea they could be pulled out of the state, and ques­tioned the wis­dom of the pres­i­dent’s threats.

The Trump-Cal­i­for­nia feud could come to a head in mid-March, when the pres­i­dent is sched­uled to travel to San Diego to look at the eight pro­to­types that were built as part of a con­test to de­sign the bor­der wall of the fu­ture.

Mr. Trump in the past has said he would pick the win­ner, though Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day re­fused to say whether that was still the plan.

“The se­lec­tion of the bor­der wall pro­to­types will be go­ing through the nor­mal course of the pro­cure­ment process,” said as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Jonathan Hoff­man.

Some con­ser­va­tive states reg­u­larly bat­tled Pres­i­dent Obama, with Texas lead­ing the way in su­ing to stop his im­mi­gra­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies. Ari­zona, mean­while, took the lead on leg­is­la­tion, pass­ing laws that at­tempted to crack down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Those laws were largely blocked by the Supreme Court.


A top im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cial said Wed­nes­day that about 800 il­le­gal-im­mi­grant crim­i­nals in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia were able to avoid be­ing ar­rested be­cause of a week­end warn­ing that Oak­land Mayor Libby Schaaf put on Twit­ter.

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