LOS ANGELES — Donald Trump is coming – at last – to the state he loves to hate, setting foot in California for his first time as president.
This is turf he lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes in 2016. He has mocked its judges for blocking his agenda, sued over its lax enforcement of immigration laws and threatened to pull out federal agents.
But there’s something he’s dying to see here: the prototypes for his long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. And there’s something he’s eager to do here: raise cash from the Beverly Hills crowd.
Trump’s arrival Tuesday will come just days after his Justice Department sued to block a trio of state laws designed to protect people living in the U.S. illegally. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown likened it to “an act of war” with Trump’s administration.
“The State of California is sheltering dangerous criminals in a brazen and lawless attack on our Constitutional system of government,” Trump complained in his weekly address, accusing California’s leaders of being “in open defiance of federal law.”
“They don’t care about crime. They don’t care about death and killings. They don’t care about robberies,” he said, calling on Congress to block the state’s federal funds.
Last week, Oakland’s mayor warned residents of an impending immigration raid – a move that Trump called disgraceful and said put law enforcement officers at risk.
The state has also joined lawsuits aimed at stopping construction of Trump’s stalled border wall. And its judges have repeatedly ruled against policies Trump has tried to enact.
In recent months, Trump and other administration officials have threatened both to flood the state with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and to pull ICE out of the state completely.
“I mean, frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crying mess like you’ve never seen in California,” Trump said last month, predicting “crime like nobody has ever seen crime in this country.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s acting ICE director has repeatedly threatened to increase its enforcement footprint in the state in retaliation for its limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities – and he seems to be making good on his promise.
“California better hold on tight. They’re about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers,” Thomas Homan said on Fox earlier this year before his agency conducted a series of raids.
When asked if Trump planned to play nice on the trip, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “If anybody is stepping out of bounds here, it would be someone who is refusing to follow federal law, which is certainly not the president. And we’re going for what we hope to be an incredibly positive trip.”