President Donald Trump hosted a roundtable conversation at the White House to discuss law enforcement and sanctuary cities on Tuesday.
“We’re going to win it. It should be easy, but it’s not,” Trump said to the group of law enforcement and members of Congress at the White House, calling it a “common sense” issue.
“It’s so basic, it’s called law and order and safety, and we’re going to have it in our country,” Trump said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also present for the discussion, vowing to challenge cities with sanctuary city policies. He called the uncooperative behavior of sanctuary city officials a “knife in the heart” of the relationships needed to prioritize law enforcement.
“They are irrational, they make no sense, they are radical really at their fundamental basis,” Sessions said, excoriating city officials for their “open borders” policies favoring drug dealers and criminal aliens.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas decried the term “sanctuary cities,” noting that they were failing to provide their citizens with basic safety by harboring criminal illegal aliens.
“They are not sanctuary cities, they are outlaw cities,” he said.
Congresswoman Martha McSally expressed her frustration with sanctuary cities in California, pointing out that the criminal aliens who were not prosecuted in that state were coming to Arizona.
“If these dangerous policies continue in California, we might need to build a wall between California and Arizona as well, to keep these dangerous criminals out of our state,” she said, prompting some in the room to chuckle.
Sen. Pat Toomey criticized sanctuary cities for policies that Pennsylvania voters could not support.
“Sanctuary cities are not pro-immigrant communities as has been pointed out. Legal immigrants in this country often live amongst people who are here illegally and their lives are threatened by this policy,” he said.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows thanked Trump for bringing the issue to the forefront of his agenda, calling for Congress to defund sanctuary cities and change the criteria for federal grants.
ICE Director Tom Homan said he was frustrated by city officials who tried to diminish the law enforcement efforts of his agency.
He said it “defied logic” that local officials of sanctuary cities would not let ICE agents into their jails when they frequently demanded that deportations focus on criminals first.
“Let me be clear, there are no raids, there are no sweeps, everybody we arrest is a targeted enforcement operation. We know exactly who we’re going to arrest and exactly where we’re going to find them most of the time,” Homan said.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that the rules for sanctuary cities were originally intended to protect illegal immigrants who were victims of crimes, but that the intent did not have its desired effect.
“That idea has been contorted, it has been perverted, and now what we have is sanctuary for criminals,” she said.