Three top House Democratic committee chairmen are demanding documents from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security relating to the plan to bring detained illegals to sanctuary cities where they would be released.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairmen of the House Judiciary, Oversight and Reform and Homeland Security committees asked acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan to supply their committees with any and all communications discussing the plan.
“We are deeply troubled by multiple reports, recently confirmed by the President, that the Trump Administration is considering releasing detained immigrants into congressional districts represented by Democrats in a bizarre and unlawful attempt to score political points,” wrote the chairmen.
“These reports are alarming. Not only does the Administration lack the legal authority to transfer detainees in this manner, it is shocking that the President and senior Administration officials are even considering manipulating release decisions for purely political reasons,” they added.
White House officials twice floated the idea of sending Central American asylum seekers to “sanctuary cities” as a form of political retribution against Democrats, The Washington Post reported last week.
Administration officials first downplayed the report, which was based on information from whistleblowers and official emails, but Trump over the weekend doubled down on the idea.
“Those Illegal Immigrants who can no longer be legally held (Congress must fix the laws and loopholes) will be, subject to Homeland Security, given to Sanctuary Cities and States!” Trump tweeted Monday.
It’s unclear whether the administration would be acting illegally if Trump went through with the plan. DHS has plenty of discretion about where they release detainees. Currently, those asylum seekers and illegals who are being released are taken to a nearby bus station where they can basically go anywhere in the U.S.
Democrats vowed last week to investigate the White House over the plan to shuttle immigrants to sanctuary jurisdictions, which do cooperate with federal immigration authorities, although the plan has not been put in place.
“This reflects how much policymakers at the highest level of a government don’t understand what they’re dealing with,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) Friday. “When they say they’re going to punish ‘sanctuary states,’ don’t they understand these workers are needed in this economy?”
The three House chairmen who penned Monday’s letter wrote that the Trump proposal “appears to have been specifically designed to target Democratic districts.”
Is it illegal for the president to “target” Democratic districts in this manner? Cynical, yes, but we have yet to hear one Democrat cite any law that would make it illegal.
Democrats don’t like to be exposed to charges of hypocrisy in this way. And it’s still unclear if the president’s “plan” exists anywhere except as a crazy idea from some White House staffer that was shot down as unworkable. It would be in keeping with Trump’s MO that once he saw the outrage generated by the WaPo article, he decided to do a little trolling of the opposition and tweeted his support for the plan. But it’s doubtful that anyone at Homeland Security has made any preparations at all to carry it out.