The battle between Washington and Sacramento over sanctuary city and sanctuary state policies doesn’t seem to be fading away to the back page. During recent remarks made this week from the White House, President Trump weighed in once again on the lack of cooperation that ICE and the Border Patrol are getting from state officials in California in terms of locating and apprehending criminal illegal aliens.
In the past, Trump has sent out Jeff Sessions to threaten their JAG grants and other federal, law enforcement funding. This week he tossed out a completely different idea. Rather than trying to work around obstructionist, non-compliant jurisdictions, what if the federal government simply threw up their hands and pulled immigration enforcement officers out of the state entirely and let them deal with the problem themselves? (Washington Times)
President Trump voiced frustration Thursday with California’s status as a statewide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, including gang members, and said he’s considering pulling federal immigration enforcement agents out of the state as a response.
“If we ever said, ‘Hey, let California alone let them figure it out for themselves,’ in two months they’d be begging for us to come back,” the president said during a White House meeting on law enforcement issues. “They would be begging. And you know what? I’m thinking about doing it.”
California last month became a “sanctuary state” where police are barred from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement actions in most cases.
Before anyone gets too carried away, this sounds like much more of a hyperbolic campaign line than any sort of actual policy decision being taken into consideration. Clearly, the President is frustrated with the actions of the non-compliant jurisdictions and states, but simply removing that aspect of federal law enforcement from one of the largest states in the nation with a population in excess of 39 million would be beyond problematic.
First of all, immigration enforcement is one of the clear responsibilities of the federal government (as opposed to the more constitutionally questionable adventures Washington regularly undertakes) and absconding in that duty would be an impeachable offense. Also, it’s a decision which would affect the entire nation. Along with Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, California is on the front lines in terms of maintaining our border security. Giving up and allowing essentially unfettered access to the country by illegal aliens would open the floodgates to problems which would soon spread to the rest of the states.
It would also defeat one of Trump’s chief law enforcement priorities, namely battling the recruiting efforts of gangs, particularly MS-13. Trump brought that up himself during the same discussion, saying, “[MS-13 is] smart — they actually have franchises going to Los Angeles. We’re getting no help from the state of California.”
The last problem with this concept is that it would probably backfire, at least in the short term. While California’s elected officials would likely be in a panic behind closed doors, they couldn’t afford to turn around and bemoan the loss of the agents they’ve been accusing of “endangering the immigrant community” for all this time. The police and sheriff’s departments would likely be overwhelmed with additional work, but California has a relatively massive law enforcement sector so they could hold back the tide for a while. Actually, I think Jerry Brown would love to see ICE and the Border Patrol be pulled out just so he’d have something else to fight with the President about.
All in all, I don’t see this “proposal” going any further than a throwaway line to stir up the press a bit. The President has too much invested in combatting illegal immigration at this point to simply bail out on California.