Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) rebuked President Donald Trump after the president analogized illegal immigrants whom he claimed are part of gangs to animals during a meeting with California officials who oppose the state's position on sanctuary cities.
Brown did not hold back in his criticisms.
The president "is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA," Brown wrote on Twitter. "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."
The president's comments mirrored some of his past––often incendiary––comments on immigrants.
“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them. And we’re taking people out of the country, you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals," he said. “And we’re taking them out of the country at a level, at a rate, that’s never happened before.”
California's immigration laws, Trump added, are “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.”
The president blamed Democrats for passing legislation which forces immigration agents to break up families.
"I know what you're going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws the Democrats gave us," Trump said, referencing a new Department of Homeland Security policy that would potentially result in familial separations at the border, with parents separated from their children as they await their criminal proceedings.
"We have to break up families," the president continued. "The Democrats gave us that law. It's a horrible thing, we have to break up families. That Democrats gave us that law and they don't want to do anything about it."
Trump also criticized Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to inform residents of Oakland ahead of an impending ICE raid. The president said Schaaf's action amounted to "obstruction of justice" because many of those who were targeted fled before immigration agents could arrive:
They all fled, or most of them fled. The whole operation took a long time to put together. You talk about obstruction of justice — I would recommend that you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland, California, Jeff [Sessions]. She advises thousand people ... ‘Get out of here, the law enforcement’s coming.’ And you worked on that long and hard and you got there and there were very few people there.
Perhaps the Department of Justice can look into that, with respect to the mayor, because it’s a big deal out there, and a lot of people are very angry about what happened.
Schaaf has defended her action, saying she did not break any laws.
“I was sharing information in a way that was legal and was not obstructing justice,” she said a few days after she issued her warning, “and it was an opportunity to ensure that people were aware of their rights.”
California officials who attended the meeting included House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, councilmember Pam Patterson, and seven of the state's mayors, along with two sheriffs and a district attorney. The president himself arrived with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan.
All of these individuals oppose California legislation which bars law enforcement officers from using funds and personnel to investigate and detain people who they suspect may be in the country illegally. The legislation also forbids law enforcement from asking questions about immigration status. The state soon found itself in a heated legal battle with the Trump administration, which threatened to withhold funding from cities that did not crack down on immigration.
"Every day we're getting more and more reports from the police department about how they can't arrest these people," said San Jacinto Mayor Crystal Ruiz. "They can't arrest them, everything's a misdemeanor because it's not near [Governor Jerry Brown's] house."
Ahead of the California meeting, Trump, during a visit to Capitol Hill, demanded that Congress expedite legislation approving the construction of the wall along the Mexican border.
“We are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities,” Trump said at an event outside the Capitol honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. “We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough.”
Trump later brought his frustrations to a private lunch with GOP leaders.
"He wants the wall. He made that abundantly clear,” Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) said afterward. “He said, ‘I want the wall.’ I don’t think that’s news.”
“He said we have to secure the border," said Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). "And the American people support us on that."