The acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said politicians who run sanctuary cities should be charged with crimes.
Thomas Homan said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto that the Department of Justice needs to file charges against municipalities that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities and deny them funding.
Politicians should be held "personally accountable" for crimes committed by people living in the U.S. illegally, he said.
Homan added, "We've got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes."
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly vowed to withhold federal money from localities that refuse to give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.
Homan's comments on Fox News followed his criticism of California's new sanctuary state law, which kicked in Jan. 1 and gives greater protections for immigrants living in the state illegally. It limits cooperation between local law enforcement and U.S. immigration authorities.
The measure, which was widely backed by Democrats, bars police from asking people about their immigration status, but jail officials can work with federal authorities in some cases.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
"I think it's terrible," Homan said of the law. "You have a state of California that wants to put politics ahead of public safety, ahead of offshore safety."
He vowed to "significantly increase" enforcement in the state.
"If the politicians in California don't want to protect their communities, then ICE will," he said.