Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that twice in the last few months, the Trump administration considered releasing illegal immigrants and asylum seekers into sanctuary cities. The plan was rejected by immigration bureaucrats as unworkable.
But the reaction yesterday from Democrats to the proposal was too good for Trump to pass up. Democrats accused Trump of promoting fear and hate for wanting to take those caught at the border to sanctuary cities. So Trump has now seemingly embraced the plan and said he is considering it.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” the president said on Twitter.
Hours later, speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Trump said he would only be giving the sanctuaries what they say they want.
“California certainly is always saying ‘Oh we want more people,’ and they want more people in their sanctuary cities, well we’ll give them more people. We’ll give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply,” he said.
Trump is trolling his opponents here. He can’t be serious, can he?
Mr. Trump didn’t say what exactly he’s considering, but one option would be to transport the illegal immigrants caught at the border to sanctuary jurisdictions elsewhere, spreading the impact of the releases beyond the border.
Court documents detailing illegal immigration show some migrants already gravitate toward sanctuary communities, seeking out the more generous treatment such as ability to obtain government services and driver’s licenses.
Those border towns have been screaming for help for months. But the reality is that busing illegals to sanctuary cities would cost a fortune and be a logistical nightmare.
“It makes no sense,” said John Sandweg, an acting ICE director in 2013 and 2014 in the Obama administration, adding that it would violate federal law by diverting money “for political purposes.”
“At a time like this, when ICE is just overwhelmed by the number of Central Americans arriving, having to divert further resources to send a political message is outrageous,” he said.
Sandweg said the government “would pay big money” for the White House’s plan to deliver migrants to sanctuary cities. In addition to transportation costs, officials would have to assign immigration agents to escort them to their destinations. Currently, migrants usually buy their own bus or airline tickets.
“It’s ludicrous,” Sandweg said. “It’s meddling in operations at an extreme level.”
Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting deputy director, questioned the proposal in an email to the White House in November after it was first raised as a possibility, saying that arranging for transportation would strain the department and weaken its enforcement efforts.
All of this is probably true and the president’s cynicism in actually appearing to embrace the plan plays into his opponents’ criticism of him as using people to settle political scores.
But there’s something attractive about exposing the extreme hypocrisy of Democrats on the sanctuary city issue. Even though it’s unworkable, the plan has accomplished at least that much.