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San Diego Leaders React To President Trump’s Executive Order To Build Border Wall

Local leaders are reacting to President Donald Trump’s executive order to immediately begin construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Elected officials in San Diego and throughout the state wasted no time Wednesday lashing out at President Donald Trump's executive actions calling for construction of a wall along the Mexican border and slashing funding for so-called "sanctuary" cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

"SD already has a border built by the Feds. Crossborder trade creates jobs. Our binational economic & cultural ties have my full support," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tweeted.

Faulconer, a Republican, has boosted San Diego and Tijuana as a binational region and consistently opposed Trump on the issue.

Taking part in a conference call conducted by immigrant rights advocates, San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward said the president's actions will reduce safety in the border cities.

Related: Trump’s Immigration Actions Mark Sharp Shift In US Policy

"Patrolling them with tens of thousands of heavily armed, unaccountable agents puts our lives at risk and it will turn our communities into military zones," Ward said.

"Trust between the community and local law enforcement is essential for everyone's security," he said. "Policies that direct local law enforcement to participate in border enforcement — that includes interrogating people on their way to school, work and other destinations — erodes this trust."

Ward said the president's actions against sanctuary cities "threatens the sovereignty of local officials to manage our affairs and protect our communities."

Building a border wall was a hallmark of Trump's presidential campaign, and he continues to insist that although the United States will be moving ahead with construction, Mexico will ultimately foot the bill — something Mexican leaders have steadfastly denied.

In a speech, the president said construction would begin immediately on a wall that is "so badly needed." He also said he wants to hire 5,000 new agents for the U.S. Border Patrol and remove immigrant criminal offenders to their countries of origin.

Fences already exist along much of the border with Mexico, including San Diego. Other areas are patrolled by Border Patrol agents or observed via remote cameras.

Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, whose district covers border areas, said the president is putting his anti-immigrant rhetoric into action.

"These executive orders do not bring us any closer to achieving comprehensive immigration reform and they do not make America safer," Vargas said.

"Instead, the president is proposing solutions that target, criminalize and demonize innocent communities," Vargas said. "Building a wall and stripping funds from sanctuary cities are not effective immigration policies, they are divisive policies."

Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, called the executive orders "irrational, mean-spirited and misguided."

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a Democrat who represents southern San Diego County, said Trump's actions run contrary to basic American values of compassion and inclusion.

"He will jeopardize the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children who are in harm's way," Gonzalez Fletcher said.

"Forcing police to freelance as border agents doesn't make our communities safer, nor neither does wasting billions of American tax dollars to further divide our binational community with a border wall," she said. "This is embarrassingly un-American."

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Trump's orders will "harm public safety, tear families apart and jeopardize national security."

"Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall isn't a solution, it's a political gesture," Harris said. "And telling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear.

"In its first few days, this new administration has consistently acted against the interests of those who are voiceless and vulnerable," she said.

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, "Such executive orders and laws will not improve our nation's safety and security; rather it will reinforce fear, hate and division within our country.

"Immigrants and refugees have become legislators, doctors, engineers and business people who positively contribute to what America is — targeting them is misguided and against our country's core values," Mohebi said.

The San Diego Police Department released this statement:

The City of San Diego is not a sanctuary city. We work closely with our Federal, State, and local partners to ensure San Diego remains one of the safest big cities in the United States. Once a suspect has been arrested and booked into County Jail, the primary responsibility for the enforcement of Federal immigration laws rests with the United States Customs and Border Protection Services.

The San Diego Police Department however, recognizes and values the diversity of the community it serves. We do not check the immigration status of victims and witnesses of crimes to encourage all people to come forward, confident in the knowledge their report will be investigated thoroughly and professionally.

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