TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is responding to one of President Donald Trump's latest executive orders targeting "sanctuary" cities, calling it a reflection of weakness.
Wednesday afternoon, Trump signed the executive order cracking down on cities and counties that don't cooperate with immigration enforcement officials, threatening to block federal funding from those areas.
Illegal immigration was a central theme of Trump's campaign throughout the primary and general elections, promising to build a wall at the Mexican border and threatening to deport existing undocumented immigrants.
Through a series of eight tweets, Gillum slammed Trump's executive order, and said that the country can protect its national security and border without criminalizing undocumented immigrants.
Said Gillum via Twitter:
"President Trump's immigration Executive Order attacking cities is not a projection of strength, but a reflection of weakness. His actions are inconsistent with our highest values and cause us to shrink from our rich history as a nation of immigrants. We can protect our national security interests and have a secure border without criminalizing people who are here undocumented. The president's executive order on immigration doesn't just deal with people who have committed crimes; it criminalizes individuals based on their status as undocumented. These are working people who pay taxes in our country. They are attending public schools alongside our children and graduating as valedictorians and standout students. They are critical members of our local, state and national economy, and contribute to the culture of our society. A decision between security or compassionate immigration policy are false choices, we can have them both."
On Friday, Gillum told Eyewitness News that the country does have an immigration problem, but it shouldn't be in the hands of the local government to fix it.
"It's very clear that we do have a problem in this country and that we have a broken immigration system," he said, "And, that system needs to be fixed, but enlisting local police officers to become immigration and customs control officers to do the job of the federal government, and turn neighbors against neighbors is not the way to go about doing that."
This is not the first time Mayor Gillum has taken up a controversial issue. Earlier this month he launched his "Defend Local Solutions Campaign" after battling the gun lobby about Tallahassee gun ordinances.
In response to Gillum's recent stances, Evan Power, Chairman of the Leon County Republican Party, has launched his own online petition, aksing residents to urge Mayor Gillum to "focus on the issues in Tallahassee." More than 100 people have signed this.
"We have a mayor that's beeen elected by the people but he's not fixing the problems that face our city. Instead he's talking about Syrian refugees and immigration. Two issues he has no control over, and he won't put the items in front of the city commission which I think is important," said Power.
Power is in support of President Trump's recent executive orders.
Florida Governor Rick Scott says he thinks that there aren't any exceptions to cities that follow the law. His office released the following statement Friday:
Governor Scott believes every city needs to follow the same laws. There shouldn’t be exceptions to that. Public safety is a top priority for the Governor and he appreciates how hard our law enforcement works to protect families.
It's not Gillum's first battle over immigration in Tallahassee, nor the first time he's at odds with the governor.
In 2015, the mayor was at odds with Governor Scott after Scott said Florida wouldn't welcome Syrian refugees, shortly after terrorist attacks in Paris.
Gillum said that Tallahassee was open to Syrian refugees.