Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined other mayors who angrily denounced Donald Trump and his Justice Department after he “threw a bomb” at their annual conference by threatening to subpoena cities over their immigration policies.
Mayors from both parties had been invited as part of the United States Conference of Mayors to attend a White House session to discuss issues including the opioid crisis and infrastructure.
But the Trump administration decided to grandstand and, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sent out a press release threatening 23 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
As part of Trump’s anti-immigrant portfolio of policies, he wants local law enforcement agencies to act as de facto immigration authorities. The Justice Department accused the cities of “unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.”
Democratic mayors across the country have refused, citing public safety and community over policy ideas largely backed by bigotry and unwarranted fear.
In rejecting Trump’s invitation, Garcetti defended his fellow mayors. At a press conference, he said, “Each one of the mayors up here cares more about the public safety of our people than anybody living outside of our cities. There is not a single mayor in this country who says please, if you’re a criminal, come on over. And if you’re undocumented, bonus points. This is a myth, and it’s pure politics. Let’s be clear about what this is, it’s the politics of distraction and destruction.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, explained, “The Trump administration’s decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again — and use cities as political props in the process — has made this meeting untenable.”
Landrieu noted the juxtaposition of the White House invite and the scorched-earth release.
“One thing we never do is invite people into a comfortable space, and then go outside and throw a bomb,” he said. “We would not invite someone over for lunch, and then excoriate them on the front porch. My mama taught me better than that.”
At the event, Trump viciously attacked the mayors who rebuked his bigotry. He alleged that “sanctuary cities are the best friend of gangs and cartels, like MS-13” and claimed that “the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans.”
Some Southern California members of Congress pushed back on the myths used by the administration. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) took to Twitter to share the facts, noting, “Fact: Immigrants commit FEWER crimes,” and, “Fact: Local police say acting as Federal immigration officers jeopardizes public safety.”
Southern California Republicans, despite their vulnerability in the 2018 election, remained silent on social media.