President Trump's top immigration chief on Friday blasted California’s new "sanctuary state" law, saying it would “undermine public safety,” keep federal officers from performing their jobs and result in more arrests.
In a statement, Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his agency "would have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites."
The new law will largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using personnel or funds to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents unless those individuals have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in a 2013 state law.
Signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, the law was the result of months of tough negotiations between the governor, state Senate leader Kevin De León and law enforcement officials. It was the centerpiece of this year’s legislative proposals in Sacramento that sought to challenge President Trump’s stance on illegal immigration and provide protections for families amid the president's threats of mass deportations.
The legislation has divided law enforcement officials over its impact on public safety. Some officers have argued that entangling police and federal immigration forces pushes crime victims and witnesses further into the shadows.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones asked Homan for help fighting the so-called sanctuary state bill weeks before the two hosted a town hall meeting in March on immigration enforcement that erupted in protests.
In his statement, Homan said the new law eliminates nearly all communication with law enforcement partners, prohibits them from housing immigrant detainees through federal contracts and voids a federal immigration program under the Orange County Sheriff's Department that allows local officers to perform certain immigration duties.
“Ultimately, SB54 helps shield removable aliens from immigration enforcement and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect,” he said.