Jeff Sessions, the U.S. attorney general, on Wednesday told Fox News that California is “not entitled” to block Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and vowed that the federal government will not allow the Golden State to flout immigration laws.
Sessions called the state’s actions “radical," and reminded other sanctuary city states that “federal law determines immigration policy,” not states.
He told Shannon Bream, the host of “Fox News @ Night,” he is not happy with comments by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who on Wednesday slammed the ICE raids in the state last week as "unjust and cruel."
"Why do we have ICE officers? Are they just going to sit in their offices and do nothing?"
Federal immigration agents arrested more than 150 people in California in the days after Oakland's mayor gave early warning of the raids over the weekend late last month.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents that "credible sources" had told her a sweep was imminent, calling it her "duty and moral obligation" to warn families.
California lawmakers from Gov. Jerry Brown down to local mayors have resisted a Trump administration immigration crackdown that they contend is arbitrarily hauling in otherwise law-abiding people and splitting up families that include U.S.-born children.
“We wanted a healthy and good relationship with [California], but federal law determines immigration policy," he said. "The state of California is not entitled to block that activity. Somebody needs to stand up and say no, you’ve gone too far, you cannot do this, this is not reasonable. It’s radical, really.”
The attorney general said California's position essentially amounted to adopting "open borders." He denied that the federal government wants to commandeer state authorities.
"People have tried to spin this as somehow we're demanding that state and local officials go out and do the work of the federal government," Sessions said. "We just cannot allow them to obstruct or block" federal officers, he said.
"We cannot accept this," he reiterated.
Sessions said there is "nothing wrong" with ICE raids.
"Why do we have ICE officers?" Sessions asked. "Are they just going to sit in their offices and do nothing?"
Sessions also spoke to the recent calls for a second Special Counsel, saying he has “a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the FISA process” and that he will “consider their request.
“I have great respect for Mr. Gowdy and Chairman Goodlatte, and we're going to consider seriously their recommendations.”
Sessions also cooled off rumors about tension between the president and himself, saying that he “believes in the policies he’s advancing.”
“I think President Trump moves the ball. He can get things done that I’m not sure any other person in America could get done,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report