President Trump: Sanctuary cities are gangs' best friends

President Donald Trump says mayors who boycotted a White House event over an administration crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities are placing the needs of illegal immigrants above citizens.

"Sanctuary cities are the best friend of gangs and cartels like MS-13," the president said during remarks at the White House to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a group led by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who backed out of the event at the last minute.

Several prominent officials, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, announced they would not attend a working group session with the president at the White House out of opposition to the Justice Department's latest action to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities."

De Blasio and Landrieu, the leader of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, denounced the Justice Department's decision to threaten cities and states with subpoenas over information on their policies on undocumented immigrants just hours before the mayors were set to meet with the president at the White House. Trump hailed the move as a "critical legal step to hold accountable sanctuary cities."

"The U.S. Conference of Mayors is proud to be a bipartisan organization," Landrieu said in a statement. "But an attack on mayors who lead welcoming cities is an attack on everyone in our conference."

he administration has repeatedly threatened to withhold grant money from the cities, which has triggered a contentious battle in the courts.

“We support enforcing the law and following the law,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “And if mayors have a problem with that, they should talk to Congress, the people that pass the laws.”

Sanders said the White House “would love to be able to work with these mayors, particularly on issues like infrastructure and other things. But we cannot allow people to pick and choose what laws they want to follow."

"If we have a country with no laws, then nothing matters," she added.

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