WASHINGTON -- The White House Monday accused California state officials of "bankrolling" criminal human-smuggling rings with its sanctuary policies.
On the eve of President Donald Trump's first visit to the state since taking office, his administration took another shot at California lawmakers who have pledged to fight a federal lawsuit against new state laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally. Administration officials said those laws and policies endanger federal agents and make immigrant communities less safe.
"We're giving them a selling point," an administration official said. "We're lining their pockets. Sanctuary cities are bankrolling the very criminal organizations that can smuggle terrorists, that smuggle weapons, that smuggle drugs and have killed border patrol agents."
Last week, the Trump administration filed sued California, challenging a new state law that restricts how and when state law enforcement can interact with federal immigration authorities.
California Gov. Jerry Brown promised not to back down in face of the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don't work here. SAD!!!," Brown said in a statement.
The rhetoric on the issue has only become more pointed since. Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan took specific aim Monday at lawmakers like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.
Pelosi promised Wednesday to fight the administration's efforts, saying Californians would not cave to "intimidation tactics."
"We will fight this sham lawsuit and will fight all cowardly attacks on our immigrant communities," Pelosi said in a Twitter post.
Homan then defended the work of Border Patrol and ICE agents.
Homan then said: "To call what we do cowardly acts on immigrant community, you're talking about law enforcement people that get up every day and leave the safety and security of their home and their families and strap a gun to their hip every day to defend this nation," Homan said. "That's the farthest thing from cowardice you're going to see."
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