PoliZette

Left Freaks Out as Trump Calls Bloody MS-13 Gangbangers ‘Animals’

Controversy obscures growing rebellion among California officials against Golden State's pernicious 'sanctuary' law

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called illegal immigrant gang members “animals,” setting off a predictable cacophony on the Left.

Never-Trump political strategist Ana Navarro compared Trump to Nazis who dehumanized Jews.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) called it “unacceptable and dangerous” on Twitter.

“President Trump warned law enforcement officers almost a year ago about the ‘animals’ they were up against,” SPLC tweeted. “Today, he used the exact same dehumanizing language at a press conference.”

Shaun King, co-founder of the left-wing Real Justice PAC, tweeted, “You have to see this. Donald Trump’s bigotry and dehumanization of immigrants is on full display here.”

But the context of Trump’s remark at a White House event, coming in response to a statement by a California sheriff about MS-13 gang members, was clear.

“We’re stopping a lot of them. But we’re taking people out of the country; you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” he said. “These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level, at a rate that’s never happened before.”

The controversy overshadowed what has become a burgeoning counterattack by mayors, sheriffs and other officials across the Golden State who believe state lawmakers have gone too far in preventing local law enforcement officials from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

The White House roundtable included input from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and 15 local California elected officials. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, whose statement prompted Trump’s “animals” description, said she welcomed a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions challenging the state’s “sanctuary” law.

Mims said she maintains a good working relationship with ICE officers but now cannot cooperate with them as she had in the past.

“Now ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys,” she said. “They cannot come in to talk to people in our jail, unless they reach a certain threshold. They can’t do all kinds of things that other law enforcement agencies can do … It’s a disgrace.”

Mims said she previously had invited ICE to put agents in her jail so they could locate illegal immigrants. They operated in a “safe, controlled environment,” she said.

But state law now prohibits that type of cooperation.

“Sheriffs in California now are in an untenable position when it comes to trying to figure out — we have state law. We have federal laws,” she said. “And here we are stuck in the middle. Sheriffs especially, because most of us run our county jails.”

“It appears to be gaining steam … There definitely is a rebellion against the resistance.”

Ric Oberlink, executive director for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), told LifeZette that the backlash against the California law is real — and not just in Republican strongholds. He noted that San Diego County, which backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, signed on to efforts to overturn the law.

“It appears to be gaining steam … There definitely is a rebellion against the resistance,” Oberlink said.

Oberlink said there was a “certain bandwagon effect” that led opponents of the president to support the law, knowns as SB 54. But he added that some people have had second thoughts as they learned more about how significantly the law ties the hands of local police and sheriff’s officials.

Oberlink said he does not anticipate the legislature to reverse course. But he said the lawsuit might succeed and that momentum is growing to place an initiative on the ballot, although he added that it probably is too late for this November’s election.

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said it is too soon to tell what impact the anti-sanctuary movement will have on the litigation or legislation.

“It remains to be seen what will come out of it,” he said. “But it’s a clear indication that radical policies coming out of the legislature don’t reflect what most Californians want.”

At the White House, participants praised Trump’s efforts. Melissa Melendez, a Republican in the California Assembly, raised the specter of Kate Steinle — who died in 2015 at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had been deported five previous times. But he enjoyed the protections of San Francisco’s far-reaching sanctuary ordinance.

“It is a crisis,” she said. “That’s the point where we’re at in California. It is a crisis. So for me and my constituents … they don’t want to see another Kate Steinle. That’s what I hear every single week.”

Related: DHS Chief Staying ‘for the Long Haul,’ Trump Right to Be ‘Frustrated’

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon 30 years ago, said he struck an agreement with ICE in 2010 to embed eight agents in the local police department. He said the cooperation led to the deportation of 2,700 criminal illegal immigrants and reduced crime to 1980s levels.

Abed called the argument that sanctuary policies lead to more crime-reporting “fake news” and criticized Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for a breakdown in law and order.

“I came here to live the American Dream,” he said. “And we did well. Jerry Brown wants to take this American Dream away from us … I see myself fighting for these values that made our country great, Mr. President.”

During the meeting, Trump reiterated his frustration at the failure of Congress to close loopholes that complicate efforts to enforce immigration laws at the federal level.

“It’s crazy. The dumbest laws, as I said before — the dumbest laws in the world,” he said.

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

meet the author

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected].