The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department defended itself against an op-ed in a local newspaper attacking Sheriff Adam Christianson for comments he made during a roundtable with President Donald Trump, KOVR-TV reported.
Christianson was one of more than a dozen California officials who participated in an immigration meeting with Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and ICE Director Thomas Homan last week.
"Sheriff Christianson is right that his deputies and border patrol agents should be focusing on catching criminals — not bothering those simply striving for a better life," wrote opinion editor Mike Dunbar. "We just wish that was true."
What's the story?
During the meeting at the White House, Christianson made the comment that they were targeting criminal immigrants, not "people who are seeking a better life in America."
The Modesto Bee op-ed claimed Christianson's statement was false, citing January ICE raids on convenience stores during which Dunbar writes that "virtually all" of those arrested were on their way to work.
"Buying coffee is not a crime," Dunbar wrote.
How did the sheriff's department respond?
The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department fired back Monday, defending Christianson's comments.
"Here are the facts: While they may have been 'buying coffee,' all in our area were specifically identified PRIOR to the arrest operation for criminal activity including sexual assault, possession of dangerous drugs, sales and distribution of narcotics, driving under the influence, felony assault and other related crimes including criminal gang activity," read a statement on the department's Facebook page.
"None were arrested simply because they were 'on their way to work' or because of immigration status," the statement continued. "ALL have victimized and exploited innocent people who live in our communities."
What did he say about 'animals'?
The meeting Christianson attended was mostly noted for one comment the president made, referring to MS-13 gang members as "animals."
"You wouldn't believe how bad these people are," Trump said of MS-13. "These aren't people. These are animals, and we're taking them out of the country at a rate that's never happened before."
The comments were widely misrepresented in mainstream media outlets, which portrayed Trump as having referred to all illegal immigrants as animals.