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Trump casually threatens to pull ICE officers out of California to teach the state a lesson

President Trump called gang members "animals" on Feb. 22, and said he's "thinking about" to pulling federal immigration officers out of California. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
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President Trump said Thursday that he has become so frustrated with California's “lousy management job” in cracking down on illegal immigration that he's thinking about removing federal immigration officials from the state.

“If we ever pulled our ICE out, 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,” Trump said during a roundtable discussion about school shootings Thursday with state and local officials. “They would be begging. And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it.”

In December, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the California Values Act into law, forbidding local authorities from asking about immigration status during routine interactions or doing the work of immigration agents. The governor has stated that the law does not prevent or prohibit federal officials from doing their jobs.

Trump has pledged to rid the country of such sanctuaries, pointing to scattered examples of undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes, and the Department of Justice has threatened to cut off millions of dollars in federal public safety grants to cities and jurisdictions that harbor undocumented immigrants.

“If I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime mess like you've never seen in California,” Trump said. “All I'd have to do is to say, ‘ICE and Border Patrol, let California alone.’ You'd be inundated. You would see crime like no one's ever seen crime in this country. And yet we get no help from the state of California. They're doing a lousy management job, they have the highest taxes in the nation, and they don't know what's happening out there.”

The president's comment, as expected, angered Californians.

Brown responded with a statement Thursday afternoon: “In California, we protect all of our people from criminals and gangs, as well as dangerous assault weapons. We do our job, Mr. President, you do yours.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that “the president’s attacks are not only mean-spirited, they’re patently false.”

“President Trump today renewed his attacks on California with more insults and threats. The president’s obsession with our state is growing more outrageous by the day,” Feinstein continued in her statement Thursday. “California is the 6th largest economy in the world. We’re the global hub of innovation and the largest farm state in the country. We’re creating jobs and driving the nation’s economy. At the same time, the state’s murder rate keeps falling and crime is at a historic low.”