- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2017

President Trump said Sunday that he’s considering withholding federal funds to California if state officials proceed with a proposal to create a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants.

“If we have to, we’ll defund,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly broadcast Sunday on Fox News. “We give tremendous amounts of money to California. California in many ways is out of control.”

Democrats in the state’s Senate Public Safety Committee approved a measure last week to restrict police and local agencies throughout the state from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The move was in response to an order Mr. Trump signed last week that could result in withdrawing federal money from sanctuary cities, many of which are located in California.

Mr. Trump said he would prefer not to take such action against the state.

“I don’t want to defund anybody,” the president said. “I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.”

Mr. Trump also confirmed that, in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto a week ago, he offered to send U.S. troops to Mexico to help disrupt drug cartels.

“I did talk to him about it,” Mr. Trump said. “We have to do something about the cartels. I want to help him with it. He seemed very willing to get help from us.”

While both leaders indicated no decision was reached, Mr. Trump said drug cartels are “a real problem for us.”

“Don’t forget, those cartels are operating in our country,” the president said. “They’re poisoning the youth of our country.”

Despite reports of a confrontation over Mr. Trump’s plans to force Mexico to build a wall along the border, he said Mr. Pena Nieto is “a good man.”

“We get along very well,” Mr. Trump said. “But they have problems controlling aspects of their country. And I would say the drugs and the drug cartels [are] number one.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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