WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump threatened to pull immigration and other federal law enforcement agents from California on Thursday (Feb 22), a warning shot to the country's richest and most populous state.
Complaining that California was not complying with his hardline position on migrants, Trump warned he could cut vital help from Washington and prompt a crime wave.
"Frankly it's a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation," he said, referring to a policy adopted by around 300 local authorities, cities and states of limiting cooperation with strict federal immigration edicts.
"We are getting no help from the state of California," Trump continued, claiming the state was protecting members of the violent MS13 gang.
"Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime mess like you've never seen," he said, focusing on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies.
"All I would have to do is say ICE and Border Patrol leave California alone and you would be inundated, you would see crime like no one has ever seen crime in this country."
Trump has repeatedly equated migrants with criminals, and made hardline migration policies a central plank of his political platform.
"In two months they'd be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it."