President Trump is doubling down on his threat to send immigrants who are at our border, many to seek asylum, to "sanctuary cities." He said in a tweet, "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!"
Democrats have said his proposal is politically motivated, while many in the GOP and even Trump himself dismiss that idea entirely. Really? If this is not a politically motivated proposal, then why not just move these asylum seekers farther north in Phoenix and Arizona? Or even within California?
The president's specific suggestion that these individuals be sent to sanctuary cities proves that this is, in fact, a politically motivated stunt. And to further support the claim that this is politically motivated, Department of Homeland Security officials stated that the Trump administration not only wanted immigrants released in cities with a strong Democratic presence, but that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was specifically targeted. That information proves this is not only a political move, but a move of retribution.
What the president is seemingly trying to do is bait Democratic lawmakers in these sanctuary cities. But now we are seeing that backfire; many of the mayors have said they would welcome these asylum seekers with open arms.
Three top Democratic chairmen in the House have called Trump's initiative a “bizarre and unlawful attempt to gain political points," including Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. They have written to both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security requesting communication between the administration and other officials related to Trump's proposal.
This proposal by the president is certainly not presidential. It’s a gross abuse of power. The president claims these people are dangerous. The president specifically said "dangerous people are coming here and the good people are dying." He added, "From the time I made my first speech at Trump Tower, when I mentioned the word 'rape' and everybody went crazy, that turned out to be nothing compared to what happens on those journeys up, nothing."
If the president of the United States truly believes these people seeking asylum are dangerous and that worse things than rape happen among them. He is not only putting sanctuary cities at risk. He's putting the people in these cities at risk. The president’s role as commander in chief is, first and foremost, to ensure America’s national security.
The president also has a duty to those he appoints to run various departments and agencies in his administration. Matthew Albence, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he felt the president's proposal raised serious legal, logistical and political concerns. The agency doesn’t have the funding or physical manpower to act on the president's proposal.
Albence was also concerned with liability issues. What happens if someone gets hurt or dies in transit? Especially a child? Trump’s own aides told him a policy to release migrants into sanctuary cities would likely be illegal and unfeasible; both legal experts and former immigration officials agree with that assessment.
What we need is comprehensive immigration reform — not political tactics that use people, including children, as pawns
Of course, there is also the issue of the president’s campaign promise to deport more asylum seekers rather than to relocate them to Democratic strongholds. As California Gov. Gavin Newsom correctly stated, the majority of undocumented workers here and entering the country already come into California.
And let’s not forget the cost. Is the budget-slashing GOP going to greenlight the required funding? It's doubtful. The president is also forgetting that individuals released in communities don’t have to stay within the jurisdiction once they’re released.
Also worth considering is whether the president or his administration have the authority to do this. It is unclear what authority would allow busing migrants from detention centers near the border and releasing them into sanctuary cities.
The best solution to this problem is legislation, which the president could put forth. This is an area where bipartisan support can be attained. Both sides know the asylum laws need to be changed; the system is broken and needs to be fixed. The immigration courts need more funding to help reduce the backlog of immigration cases that keep many of these people waiting for years for their day in court.
What we need is comprehensive immigration reform — not political tactics that use people, including children, as pawns because someone didn’t get his way, or more specifically, his wall.