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Top ICE Official Takes Aim At California's Sanctuary State Status

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- California officially became a sanctuary state this week and the feds are hitting back.

"California better hold on tight," said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan. "They're about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers in the state of California."

Homan told Fox News that politicians who run sanctuary cities should be charged with crimes.

"Another thing they need to do, they need to hold these politicians personally accountable...We got to take them to court and we got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes," Homan said.

It comes as President Trump's Homeland Security chief toured the wildfire destruction in the North Bay Wednesday.

Homeland Security Chief Kirstjen Nielsen toured the Santa Rosa fire zone Wednesday and we asked her about the issue of President Trump vs. sanctuary cities.

Chief Kirstjen Nielsen said, "When we aren't able to pick up the criminals in a safe setting such as a jail, we then have to go into communities which puts everyone in danger."

Nielsen's comment came the same day that the Trump administration's top immigration officer -- Homan -- told Fox News they were gearing up for a significant increase in enforcement in California.

As of January 1, California became a sanctuary state and will no longer cooperate with the feds on deportations unless it involves a serious crime.

"If the politicians in California don't want to protect their communities, than ICE will," Homan said.

That got a swift response from Oakland City Council Member Rebecca Kaplan,  a leader in the sanctuary city movement.

Kaplan said, "Well, this reinforces why it is so important that the Oakland Police Department not collude with ICE. The Trump administration has now made it clear that they are attacking people not based on public safety needs, but based on his political vendetta."

Kaplan cited a raid last August on suspected human trafficking ring where no one was charged - but one person was held by immigration officials.

"ICE has been lying to the community in terms of saying they are going after crimes," Kaplan said.

The Department of Homeland Security disagrees.

"What we are talking about are sanctuaries for criminal aliens," said DHS Chief Nielsen.

Oakland Council Member Noel Gallo says there is room for both safety and sanctuary.

Gallo said, "We are not going to go out there and try to deport people. That is not our direction ... but if it is a public safety emergency then the police chief will make the call."

In San Francisco, the police have been ordered not to work even on terrorism cases with the feds for fear that the information shared could lead to deportations, which the San Francisco Police Officers' Union says goes too far.

SFPOA President Martin Halloran said, "We don't have our investigators working directly with FBI agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Force to combat any threat to this city. We just saw that happen on Dec. 2 when the FBI affected an arrest on an individual who was planning a mass casualty attack at Pier 39."

DHS Chief Nielsen said, "I think the administration has been pretty clear with respect to these policies, but we do look forward to trying to continue to work with the state and local officials."

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