WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has asked a group of nearly a dozen sheriffs — many of whom are vocal Trump supporters — to come to the White House Tuesday morning to discuss law enforcement issues, including his executive orders on immigration.
The group is expected to include a Wyoming sheriff who suggested Muslim terrorists were coming over the U.S.-Mexico border, a Texas sheriff who admired Trump for “saying what the American people want to hear,” and a Minnesota sheriff who praised Trump for sparking a “patriot spring” that he compared to the Arab Spring, the pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East.
Also on the invite list is the sheriff of Orange County, a law enforcement agency that is currently the subject of a federal civil rights investigation over a tainted jailhouse informant program that has allegedly violated the rights of numerous defendants for decades.
A spokesman for the National Sheriffs’ Association, or NSA, who provided the list of attendees to The Huffington post, said the meeting is expected to last around 45 minutes to an hour. It will partly focus on immigration, including Trump’s executive order punishing so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts. The sheriffs also plan to talk about mental health of inmates in jails and a program that permits the federal government to transfer military supplies to local law enforcement, according to the NSA spokesman.
The people invited to meet with Trump on Tuesday include a combination of leadership chosen by the NSA and specific people the White House requested, the NSA spokesman told HuffPost. A White House spokeswoman said they would release a list of attendees and a readout of the meeting after it concludes on Tuesday.
One sheriff invited to the meeting, Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick, warned that people he labelled “OTMs” — “other than Mexicans” — were making their way over the border. “Sheriff Glick said he knows law enforcement in the southwest border states have found evidence of OTMs, such as Islamic prayer rugs and Korans, while investigating immigrant camps,” the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported last year. The fact-checking organization PolitiFact has labeled claims that Islamic prayer rugs were found along the border “pants on fire wrong.” Glick also criticized the NFL for allowing Beyoncé to perform at the Super Bowl last year, when members of the association watching the game at their 2016 winter meeting turned off her performance.
And in December 2015 — days after Trump first publicly proposed banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S. — Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson from Texas responded by noting that “the only way we can have a meaningful immigration policy is for us to first secure our borders.”
Another potential attendee is Sheriff Caroline “Bunny” Welsh, an early Trump supporter who served on the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania women leadership team and said the “energy and the enthusiasm for Mr. Trump was something I have never seen before.”
Trump is also slated to meet with at least one Democrat, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall from Tennessee, a reform-minded law enforcement official who has focused on lowering the jail population and is supportive of the decriminalization of marijuana possession.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a prominent and controversial Trump supporter who had been discussed for a potential role in the administration, will not be in D.C. for the meeting, a spokeswoman told HuffPost.
Sheriffs can play a key role in choosing which immigration policies to prioritize. They have leeway, for example, over the extent to which they cooperate with federal immigration authorities, which includes deciding whether to hold undocumented immigrants in jail for longer than their initial charges allow. Trump has vocally criticized localities that don’t agree with him on this issue.
The National Sheriffs’ Association, which also has its winter meeting in D.C. this week, represents more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the United States, and leans conservative. When an Obama administration task force recommended a “soft look” for officers policing protests in 2015, the former president of the association trotted out a vest with “a fuzzy boa attached to the straps of the vest and a red target on the back,” according to a report in the Daily Caller. After Trump’s election, the group praised him for his “strong support for law enforcement.”