Trump: Without ICE, California would be 'crime nest'

President Trump on Thursday threatened to pull U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from California if state officials continue to refuse to assist federal agents in immigration initiatives.

Trump, during a White House meeting, said that if he followed through with the threat, the state “would have a crime nest like you’ve never seen in California.

"All I’d have to do is say, ‘ICE and Border Patrol, let California learn,'" the president said.

Trump added that California state officials were doing a “lousy management job,” and criticized them for supposedly harboring “criminals,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“Frankly, it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation, the protection of these horrible criminals in California and other places,” Trump said.  

“If we ever pulled our ICE out and we ever said, ‘Hey, let California learn and let them figure it out for themselves,’ in two months, they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging,” he added.

Since Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has ratcheted up enforcement of immigration laws -- clashing with the liberal policies of California.

FILE - In this May 11, 2017, file photo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan speaks during a news conference in Washington. California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, he is concerned about open-ended immigration sweeps when he and other officials say the Trump administration should be concentrating on deporting dangerous felons. Homan has repeatedly lambasted California over a new state law that strictly limits the cooperation of local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities when they are booked into jail for other reasons. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Thomas Homan, ICE's acting director  (Associated Press)

Last month, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both California Democrats, sent a joint letter to ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, requesting detailed information on rumored upcoming raids in California, the Sacramento Bee reported.  

“Diverting resources in an effort to punish California and score political points is an abhorrent abuse of power, not to mention a terrible misuse of scarce resources,” the letter read in part.

"We don't conduct raids,” Homan said during an interview with Fox News. “We conduct targeted enforcement operations. We don't go into neighborhoods, knocking on a bunch of doors, looking for people that are different than us.”

Trump did not elaborate on his remarks, but his comments made the rounds on social media. Opinion was divided.  

Feinstein tweeted: “The president’s obsession with California is growing more outrageous by the day. His attacks are not only mean-spirited, they’re patently false.”

Fox News’ Todd Starnes tweeted: “Trump says he’s thinking about pulling ICE agents from California. That’s actually a great idea. Let the Democrats take care of all the illegals.”

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.