Trump's Head of Immigration Enforcement Made First Public Appearance. It Didn't Go Well

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Trump's Head of Immigration Enforcement Made First Public Appearance. It Didn't Go Well

'We cannot trust an admin that justifies inhumane counter-productive mass deportation policies with #alternativefacts,' Sacramento mayor says in tweet

The Caravan of Love walk in support of immigrants and refugees last month in Minneapolis, Minn. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made his first public appearance leading the agency on Tuesday evening at an event in Sacramento, Calif., where—inside and outside of the forum—he was met with strong opposition from lawmakers and immigrant rights advocates.

The packed event comes as the Trump administration continues its immigration crackdown, and as California lawmakers weigh legislation to make it a "sanctuary state."

The forum with acting ICE director Thomas Homan was hosted by Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, and a flyer described its goal as "to hear directly from the top about how immigration enforcement is being prioritized in the community, what role the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department or other local law enforcement plays, and what information is true or false."

After Homan told the attendees that the agency prioritized "those who are a national security threat and those who are a public safety threat," the Los Angeles Times writes,

[a]ttendees shouted and cursed, chanted, and held up protest signs.

"Lies!" some yelled when the officials said authorities did not target immigrants who did not pose a danger to the community

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg led a "unity rally" outside the event space, where he said, "Today the people of Sacramento have come together again in civil, solemn, and peaceful demonstration to stand in unity and solidarity with one another and to turn resistance into resolve. Sacramento is open to anyone who wants to pursue the California and American dream and contribute to our public safety and economic output regardless of how they look, what god they worship, or where their parents were born."

"There is a lot of fear," Steinberg also said before the forum, ABC10 reports. "There is a lot of concern in our community because of the Trump campaign...because of the tweets and the executive orders that we believe are unconstitutional. It is cynical frankly and mean to bring the ICE director here to Sacramento in the midst of all of this."

Senate leader Kevin de Leόn, who introduced the sanctuary state legislation, SB54, was inside the forum and issued a series of tweets directed at Homan:

And Salvador G. Sarmiento, national campaign coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, tweeted out images of protesters:

The Sacramento Bee adds:

Steinberg, along with City Councilman Eric Guerra and Sacramento County supervisors Phil Serna and Patrick Kennedy, delivered a letter to Jones asking him to "publicly commit" that the county won't participate in a federal program that engages local law enforcement to help enforce immigration laws. The letter also asks Jones to commit to "protect our local courthouse from ICE activity" and demands "justification" for the county working with ICE to house detainees in the local jail.

While leaving the forum, Steinberg said Jones' commitment at the forum not to deputize law enforcement was "a scintilla of good news."

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday threatened sanctuary cities, saying the administration would deprive them of federal grants. Many sanctuary communities vowed to fight back, and de Leόn called Sessions' announcement "nothing short of blackmail."

"They are wrong about immigrants and wrong about what makes our communities safer," he said in a statement. "Data shows that sanctuary counties are not only safer than comparable non-sanctuary jurisdictions but are also better off economically."

"Instead of making us safer, the Trump administration is spreading fear and promoting race-based scapegoating. Their gun-to-the-head method to force resistant cities and counties to participate in Trump's inhumane and counterproductive mass-deportation is unconstitutional and will fail," he continued.

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