LOS ANGELES – California elected officials and activists wasted no time Wednesday lashing out at President Donald Trump‘s executive actions calling for construction of a wall along the Mexican border and slashing funding for so-called “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“Today’s executive orders do nothing to fix our broken immigration system,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Cutting off federal funding to cities is misguided and will do vastly more harm than good. Instead, President Trump should be focused on working with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will fix the problems facing communities across the country.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Trump’s orders will “harm public safety, tear families apart and jeopardize national security.”
“Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall isn’t a solution, it’s a political gesture,” Harris said. “And telling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear.”
“In its first few days, this new administration has consistently acted against the interests of those who are voiceless and vulnerable,” Harris said.
Trump signed his orders at the offices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he called them a benefit to both the United States and Mexico. He told DHS agents and workers that it would make their jobs easier.
“For too long, your offices and agents haven’t been allowed to properly do their jobs,” Trump said. “You know that, right? … But that’s all about to change. And I’m very happy about it and you’re very happy about it. From here on out, I’m asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States of America. They will be enforced and enforced strongly.”
He said his actions were in response to “the unprecedented surge of illegal arrivals” in the country.
“A nation without borders is not a nation,” he said. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.”
Rusty Hicks, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the organization would continue to stand in support of the roughly 1 million immigrants living in Los Angeles County illegally.
“We have already strengthened protections for immigrant workers in collective bargaining agreements,” Hicks said. “Now, with our state legislators and county Board of Supervisors, we will grow the 100 attorneys we have already organized into a much larger force to make sure every immigrant has a lawyer to defend their rights to a fair process.”
“For decades, Los Angeles and California have been stronger, more progressive and more prosperous than the rest of the nation,” Hicks said. “Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to take our nation down the dark path of division and exclusion.”
Building a border wall was a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, and he continues to insist that although the United States will be moving ahead with construction, Mexico will ultimately foot the bill — something Mexican leaders have steadfastly denied.
“I’m just telling you there will be a payment,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “It will be in a form — perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.”
Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called Trump’s actions “alt-right, dog-whistle executive directives.”
“Donald Trump’s border Wall Mahal threatens to bankrupt the nation’s treasury just as Trump has bankrupted his own businesses in the past through overblown construction projects,” he said. “Because today’s order only commences planning, Congress has the opportunity to prevent the profligate use of federal resources to construct this monument to waste and excess.”
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