Wow. Thank you. Thank you, Greg and -- for that
kind introduction, for your leadership. And thank you to CPOA
[California Peace Officers Association] for what you do -- what, now
25,000 members, the top *leadership in this state. You represent a force
of -- of -- for good, for law, for
safety in our country. And that's what it's all about for us.
I want to thank other law enforcement leaders who are
here today: Sheriff Bill Brown of the California
State Sheriffs’ Association; Chief Ed Medrano of the
[Police Chiefs] Association; Mark Brewster of the
Narcoti[c] Officers Association;
District Attorney Todd Riebe of the
California District Attorneys Association;
and Commissioner Warren Stanley of the
California Highway Patrol.
That's a good group and I'm honored to be with you and this Association.
McGregor Scott is a great leader in the
Department of Justice. I learned about him before I took office -- and
we were talking about talent around the country and people who could do
things to make America better. You have, clearly, by reputation -- and I
think he'll prove once again to be one of the very finest United States
Attorneys in our country.
Also, I would note that the California is a big state, an important
state. And it's important that we have safety and order here. And we
need talented United States Attorneys, and that will be our goal.
And one more think I would say to you: a directive I've given to every
one of our Washington prosecutors and staff, and to our United States
Attorneys around the country -- that we are partners with you, that
we're going to establish the kind of law enforcement partnership that
will be effective in making our communities safer.
I know, first hand, the importance of the work that you do. I know its
dangers, its challenges, its frustrations, and satisfactions. I've had firsthand experience
in these matters working with your colleagues in Alabama. I've sat by
them in trials. I've interviewed them late at night. We've talked about
the challenges and the realities of the world that you and your officers
And I have
inexpressible pride in the federal women and men of law enforcement.
They are talented and -- and provide such great leadership and work
throughout our country. I am fully
aware that 85 percent of all our state -- all our law enforcement officers are state
And I'm well aware that the increased training, professionalism,
leadership, and more effective law enforcement policies of our departments
nationwide -- your departments -- over several decades, has been a critical factor in
reversing the dramatic rise in crime that we saw in the 60s and 70s --
and I started out as a young prosecutor in the late 70s.
Then, over a 22 year period, we saw homicide rates cut
by half. We saw drug use
fall, basically by half, and violent crime fall dramatically throughout
this country. It was an
achievement few people ever expected could happen in those days when we
were there. And it was increasing every year.
Much of the transformative leadership for this
-- this change arose from your
former Governor, Ronald -- President Ronald Reagan -- and aided by his fabulous
counselor and later Attorney General of the United States, Ed Meese. Thank
you for both of them. They made America a better and safer place, no
doubt. Ed Meese continues to be active in Washington. He is an
intellectual force when it comes to crime, and I value his judgment and
So, in recent years -- I don't know --
maybe we got complacent, took our eye off the ball,
but recent trends in crime are worrisome. In 2014 and '15 violent crime stopped falling and jumped seven percent
nationwide. Homicide surged 20 percent in those two years, the largest increase since 1968.
availability rose. Drug purity rose. Drug prices fell. These are
not good trends. And along with the new killer drug,
overdose deaths reached levels we have never seen before -- 66,000
last year. The largest cause of death for Americans aged 50 and below is
overdose drug deaths.
This is [why] his first day in office, President Trump sent me three
executive orders -- he knows how to send orders and we intend to follow
them: (1) back the men and women in blue. Let's make sure that the
people -- law officers throughout this country know we support you, we
value what you do, and we're behind you;  reduce
crime in America. That's a pretty simple directive. Reduce crime in
America, not preside over every increasing -- increases; and  to dismantle transnational
criminal gangs and organizations. So we embrace those goals at the Department of Justice,
and we hope that you do too. And we know you do.
So let me be explicit: Our express goal is to reduce the violent crime
rate -- reduce it; to reduce the homicide rate; to reduce the amount of opioids
being prescribed in this country -- we still prescribe too many, I think
we all agree; and to reduce overdose deaths.
These are just some of the goals that we have.
So, together, let's get them. Let's solve
and achieve these goals. It's not a job that we do so much as a service.
It's a high calling, I think. And a lawful immigration system that serves the national interest helps
us to achieve these goals and more benefits for America. And that’s what
I have to about
We are a strong, prosperous, and orderly nation.
California is a great state, so important to America. And such a nation,
such a country as ours must
have a lawful system of immigration. I'm not aware of any advanced
nation who disagrees with that concept.
And let no one contend that we reject immigration and want to “wall off
America” from all immigrants. President Trump and the American
people know what’s happening. We admit 1.1 million immigrants lawfully
to permanent resident status in the United States, with a clear path to
citizenship, with a green status every year. No nation comes close to
that. It's the highest numbers in the world.
Indeed, at this unprecedented rate we will soon have the largest
percentage of non-native born in our nation’s history, and the
percentage is continuing to rise every year thereafter.
Thus, the good and decent people of this country are right to insist
that this country and its officials should end the illegality, create a rational
immigration flow, protect the nation from criminal aliens, and preserve
the national interest.
It cannot be that someone who illegally crosses the border and two days
later arrives in Sacramento, Dubuque, Louisville, Central Islip, New
home free -- never to be removed. How can that be?
It cannot be the policy of a great nation to up and reward those who
unlawfully enter its country with legal status, Social Security,
welfare, food stamps, work permits, and so forth. How can this be a
sound policy? Meanwhile those who engage in
the process lawfully and patiently and wait their turn are
discriminated against it seems at every turn.
Most Americans get this. They are working hard to make ends meet,
follow the rules, they teach their children to follow the rules, they
believe in the rule of law, and they want to keep their loved ones safe. They,
our citizens, want our government to think about them for a change, to
think about their interests for a change. They have dreams too. Frankly,
the commonsense concept -- this concept was a big part of President
Trump’s election. And elections have consequences. I think the American
people "spoke" about this subject.
Immigration law is the province of the federal
government. It's in the Constitution. This
Administration and this Justice Department are determined to make it
work effectively for all our people.
I understand that we have a wide variety of political opinions out there
on immigration. But the law is in the books and its purposes are clear
and just. There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is “the
supreme law of the land.” I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg,
or to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter
has been settled.
A refusal to apprehend and deport those,
especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law
-- it's a rejection of law --
and it creates an "open borders system." It's the only way it can be
described. And open borders is a radical,
irrational idea that cannot be accepted. The American people will not
accept it. And the United States of America is not some idea. It's a secular nation-state with a Constitution,
with laws, with
borders, all of which are designed to protect our nation’s interests.
And we should be able to agree certainly on this.
So to carry out the intent of our laws, we need law officers.
That's what you and your departments do every day. We need our
Immigration and Customs Officers, our ICE officers, our Border Patrol officers. They are your brothers and sisters. President Trump, the
Congress, and the American people want to accomplish these goals our
laws have set out for them. That’s why we pay them. That's why they get
But, California, we have a problem.
A series of actions and events has
occurred here that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal
officers. For example, the
mayor of Oakland has actively -- has been
actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE.
actions support those who flout the law and boldly validates
illegality. There’s no other way to interpret those remarks.
To make matters wor[se], the elected Lieutenant Governor
-- of this state
praised her for doing so.1 Bragging about and encouraging the
obstruction of our law enforcement and -- and the law is an...I'm afraid
this is an embarrassment to
the proud state of California.
Tom Homan, the [Acting] Director of ICE, has said
... being a law enforcement
officer is already dangerous enough, but to give the criminals a heads
up that we're coming in the next 24 hours increases that risk. I watched
[[the mayor’s]] statement when she said her priority is the safety of
community, but what she did ha[s] the exact opposite effect.
And I that's a fair criticism and
statement. According to Acting Director Homan, ICE
failed to make 800 arrests that would have been made if the mayor had
not made her statement. Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community --
800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue by other means,
difficulty in dangerous situations, all because of one
So here’s my message to
Mayor Schaaf: How dare you.
you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote
a radical open borders agenda.
But in California, we have bigger problems
also than just one mayor. For example, in January, Ventura County declined a request from ICE to
hold an alien Ventura had arrested and put in their custody for continuous sexual abuse of a
child. Instead of being removed from the country, he was released back
into the community and now federal law enforcement officers will try to find
him and arrest him,
wherever he may be.
In recent years, the California legislature has enacted a number of laws2 designed to
intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigration officers -- to intentionally use every power
the legislature has to undermine
the duly-established immigration law of America.
California law now won’t let employers voluntarily
allow ICE agents on their property.3 Won't even let them come on their
property when the company voluntarily allows them to. And...California requires employers to
give notice to the employees before ICE comes to inspect their workplace.4
When this law was before the [California] General Assembly, a Judiciary
Committee report explicitly stated that its goal was to frustrate
expected increase in federal immigration enforcement actions,” which, of
course, it was. It was designed to frustrate the work that we're
required to do under the laws of this country.
ICE agents are federal law enforcement officers carrying out federal
law. California cannot forbid them or obstruct them in doing their
jobs. Just imagine if -- if a state passed a law forbidding employers
cooperating with OSHA in ensuring workplace safety; or the Environmental
Protection Agency for looking
after polluters. Would you pass a law to do that?
And just think about the situation it puts
California employers in. They want to help law enforcement. They want to
do their civic duty. We ought to be encouraging them and thankful to
them. But your state attorney general has repeatedly promised to
prosecute these business owners. Let me quote what he said more than
once: “Ignorance of the law is
no excuse if you violate it” -- quote -- “you are subjecting yourselves to up to
10,000 dollars [in fines] for violations.”
Now this is a great state. I don't want to
be in this position of -- of having to challenge these laws. It wasn't
something I chose to do. But I can't sit by idly while the lawful
authority of federal officers are [sic] being blocked by a --
legislative acts and politicians.
California has also claimed the authority to inspect facilities where
ICE holds people in custody. Already this year, California has
specifically, and in a discriminatory manner, targeted six facilities and
demanded documents and other materials from the Department of Homeland
California won’t let law enforcement
officers like you and your people to transfer prisoners to ICE custody
to communicate with ICE that you’re about to release them from your
custody, people that ICE is looking for. Remember that California found these people dangerous
enough to detain them in the first place, but then insists on releasing
them back into the community instead of allowing federal officers to
remove them safely.
And rather than allow ICE officers to do their jobs
with the transfers at the jailhouse,
they force our officers to conduct more dangerous arrests
elsewhere -- where violent criminals may reside and where children can
be caught in a crossfire. That’s just not unconstitutional -- it’s a plain violation of federal
statute and a violation of common sense, a violation of good partnership
that we need to build between state and federal officers.
Importantly, the laws are harmful to Californians, and they’re
especially harmful to law our enforcement, your law enforcement. So that’s why the Department
filed a lawsuit4 against the state of California to invalidate these unjust laws and to
immediately freeze their effect. Federal agents must be able to -- to do the
job that Congress directed them to do.
Contrary to what you might hear from open borders radicals, we are not asking California, Oakland, or
anyone else to actually effectively enforce immigration laws. Although we would welcome the positive assistance the majority of
jurisdictions in America provide to our federal officers -- we would
certainly like that -- but ICE agents do incredible work every
day. They're not backing down. They're not going to will not be deterred.
And we're not going to stop enforcing the law in -- in Alabama or
California either, for that matter.
We are simply asking the state and other
sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law
enforcement. Stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else for the
purpose of eviscerating border and immigration laws and advancing an open borders
philosophy shared by only a few, the most radical extremists. Stop protecting
lawbreakers and giving all officers more dangerous work to do so that politicians can score political points on the backs of officer
I can't accept that. You are professionals. You understand the
risks that we're talking about. You know the reality of what happens on
the street and how your officers operate -- and how our federal officers
Think about the scene of a[n] officer knocking on a
door to execute a warrant. They don’t know what’s on the other side of
It’s not fair to them, to be putting them in a situation like that by
releasing criminal aliens into the community who shouldn’t even be in
the country. I sign condolence letters for law enforcement officers killed in the
line of duty. I signed two yesterday. I fundamentally believe at my core that we should
endanger the lives of those who risk everything for us because some
officials want to violate the law in promoting an agenda that the
American people reject.
So California -- absolutely, it appears to
me -- is using every power it has, powers it doesn't have, to
frustrate federal law enforcement. So you can be sure I’m going to use
every power I have to stop that.
We are going to fight these irrational, unfair, unconstitutional
policies that have been -- been imposed on you and your officers, on our federal officers. We are
fighting to make your job safe. We're fighting to help you reduce crime in
America, not increase it by keeping criminals here that ought to be
deported. We are fighting for a lawful system of immigration, one that
we can be proud of, one that's consistently applied, fairly applied, and
we intend to win this fight.
So, I'd like to close by reiterating my deep appreciation and profound thanks
to all the women and men of law enforcement -- federal, state, local,
tribal. The work that you do -- that you have dedicated your lives
to -- is essential. It's essential for any advanced nation. I believe
it. The Department of Justice believes
it. President Trump believes it. And you can be sure about this: We have your back;
you have our thanks.
Thank you all, and God bless.