Trump arrives in California for first visit as president, confronting the resistance movement on its home turf
President Trump arrived in California on Tuesday after a tumultuous morning in which he fired his secretary of State to personally confront the state's resistance over his signature issue, a southern border wall, and related immigration crackdowns.
Trump's first visit to the nation's most populous state is to be brief â" just one day â" but long on symbolism. He plans to spend about an hour inspecting border wall prototypes built at his direction in San Diego, then speak at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and travel to a fundraiser in Beverly Hills that is expected to raise $5 million for the Republican National Committee.Advertisement
Immigrant, labor and LGBTQ rights activists are planning to protest while Democratic lawmakers are competing to raise their own profiles by denouncing him l oudest. Many Republican candidates are staying away, given Trump's low popularity in the state.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a front-runner in the governor's race, released an online animated video Tuesday morning caricaturing the president and castigating his immigration policies. One image shows Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan reimagined as "Make America White Again."
"It's official: Donald Trump finally worked up the nerve to visit California, bringing his fear-of-everything agenda with him," Newsom says in a voiceover. "Let's get real. Donald Trump's border wall is a monument to idiocy. A 1,900-mile waste of taxpayer money that â" news flash â" is impossible to complete."
The political action committee for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is considering a run for president, is running ads coinciding with Trump's arrival. In a fundraising em ail, Garcetti wrote, "There's one thing you need to know: California Republicans and Donald Trump are like peas in a pod."
No president has waited so long to visit California since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came by train in an era when jet travel was not routine. Trump is expected to depart Washington at 9:20 Eastern time Tuesday. He will leave California on Wednesday for events in St. Louis before returning home.
Trump used to boast that he could become the first GOP presidential candidate to win the state in nearly three decades, but wound up losing to Hillary Clinton by 4.3 million votes, leading to a loss in the popular vote that Trump often laments. In California, just 22% of voters approved of the job Trump was doing as president in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll in November; 66% disapproved.
"We welcomed all the presidents that have come before him to this great state, but what we will not welcome are seed s of division and hate. What we will not welcome is racism," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
In a state so large, that still leaves millions of people eager to see the president clash with Democrats who control all the levers of power. Many of Trump's supporters in other states also view California as a foil, given its liberal power base, strict environmental regulations and permissive attitude toward immigration.
Trump arrives just one week after his administration sued California over its immigration laws, which were designed by state lawmakers eager to stop what they see as an overly aggressive enforcement policy that splits families and deports longtime, law-abiding residents. Trump and his allies see the state as a liberal sanctuary run amok and have criticized leaders including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf â" whom Trump called a "disgrace" â" for tipping off communities about imp ending raids.
White House officials ratcheted up their fight with California politicians over immigration policies ahead of Trump's visit, briefing reporters Monday night on what they called "misconceptions" being propagated by leading Democrats in the state.
Thomas D. Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took particular exception to a comment by the House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who contended last week that the administration was engaged in "cowardly attacks" against immigrants after the Justice Department sued the state over its immigration laws.
"Her quotes were just beyond the pale," Homan said, taking Pelosi's words as an attack on immigration officers.
Homan said immigration officers were doing their jobs, putting their own safety at risk and protecting communities from criminals, including those within large immigrant populations.
"How dare she say we're terrorizing immigrant communities," he said.Advertisement
Homan said recent operations in the state had mostly targeted convicted criminals including people accused of weapons crimes and crimes against children. "Our ICE officers are protecting the immigrant community in many ways," he said.
Homan's comments came just as the spokesman for ICE's San Francisco office, James Schwab, on Monday announced that he was resigning because of what he said were false claims by Homan and Sessions. Schwab said they and the agency inflated the number of suspected criminals that they said eluded capture because of Mayor Schaaf's warnings.
Homan, in his Monday night comments, also called criticism from California's Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein unacceptable.
"If people don't like it, people like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein can certainly change the law," he said, noting that Feinstein voted for an immigration enforcement law in 1996 that granted officers the authority they're using.
Homan also criticized Gov. Jerry Brown, arguing that the state's law enforcement officers have determined people in jails are a threat to public safety and therefore the state should let ICE officers detain them in the name of public safety.
"Give us access to those people," he said.
A state law passed last year â" one of three laws that the Trump administration has gone to court to challenge â" bars jail officials from notifying immigration authorities when people in custody for certain crimes are about to be released. State officials say that the vast majority of those are low-level offenders and that such policies encourage immigrant communities to cooperate with law enforcement.
In another portion of the briefing with reporters, administration officials demanded anonymi ty. One official said that ICE had followed through on a threat Homan made previously to increase the number of immigration officers deployed in the state after Brown signed the law in October.
The administration official said the deployment was not a retaliatory act but an "operational response." Apprehending people who are at large requires more officers than simply taking custody of them before they are released from jail, the official said.Advertisement
Brown wrote a letter ahead of Trump's visit urging support for California's high-speed rail efforts in an attempt to capitalize on Trump's oft-spoken support for building infrastructure. He also pushed back against the president's immigration philosophy, telling Trump that "our prosperity is not built on isolation."
"Quite the opposite," the governor wrote to Trump. "California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovat ors from across the globe."
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Times staff writers Seema Mehta in Los Angeles and John Myers in Sacramento contributed to this report.
11:40 a.m.: This article was updated with news about Trump's arrival.Source: Google News