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Former Washington Journalist
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Donald Trump’s proposal to somehow house any influx of immigrants coming through the US border within the nation’s network of so-called “sanctuary cities” may likely be nothing more than a political ploy to stoke his political base rather than actually comprise any real policy.
Still, Trump’s surprise announcement–which comes as a bit of a middle finger at his political opponents–has those same opponents of his hardline immigration policies outraged and worried.
Trump apparently sees this idea as a jab at the largely Democratic and progressive officials who, thus far, have both stymied his attempts to build the wall he craves and also support the sanctuary cities which have refused to cooperate with the round-ups of undocumented immigrants which began early in Trump’s administration.
“If we had the wall, people wouldn’t be coming up. Mexico is now apprehending and bringing back to the various countries that we’re talking about, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. They’re bringing people back to those countries, Colombia, to a certain extent. They’re going back to those countries. But, we could fix that, and so fast, if the Democrats would agree,” Trump said. “But if they don’t agree, we might as well do what they always say they want. We’ll bring the illegal, really, you call them the illegals. I call them the illegals. They came across the border illegally.
“We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it’s a state or whatever it might be. California certainly is always saying, ‘We want more people.’ They want more people in their sanctuary cities. Well, we’ll give them more people,” Trump added. “We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. Let’s see if they’re so happy.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi derided Trump’s plan as yet one more in a string of inhumane policies to address immigration.
“I don’t know anything about it, but again, it’s not just another notion that is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful of the challenges that we face as a country, as a people, to address who we are, a nation of immigrants,” Pelosi said. “I don’t think it is a statement of American values to take children out of the arms of their parents to say what might be two years before we reunite them, either you don’t know what you’re talking about or you don’t know what bonding between parent and child, whether it’s father, mother and child is. So, what the president is doing is, in my view, terribly wrong.”
Although Trump often portrays immigrants entering the United States as dangerous, statistics indicate that the opposite is true, according to Libby Schaaf, the Democratic mayor of Oakland, Calif. (Jerry Brown, then the Democratic governor of California signed a law in 2017 declaring the entire state a “sanctuary state.”)
“The data is very clear that immigrants and even undocumented immigrants commit far fewer crimes than non-immigrants. The data is clear, sanctuary cities like Oakland are actually getting safer,” Schaaf said. “We believe that there is safety and harmony in diversity and inclusion. And there is plenty of research to back that up. But what’s really outrageous is the way that this administration continues to use petty politics and really just vitriolic rhetoric to advance a racist agenda. This is not American.”
The ongoing need for sanctuary cities is tied to the lack of Washington policymakers completing comprehensive immigration reform, according to Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).
“And what we’ve seen is a president that … from his very first moments of announcing his candidacy, has gone to fear, division, racism, and called that up in the American people,” she said. “It is time that he be the leader that we need and say, ‘Let’s look at our system, let’s see how we can protect our national security and have an immigration system that makes sense, and that allows people to immigrate into this country to fill some of the needs we have for workers and that is really in line with our heritage and values as Americans. That we embrace immigrants and we replenish ourselves with immigrants and what they bring to us.’
“But this president is committed to doing the opposite and you can see it from the absolute chaos that he has created in the Department of Homeland Security that is a reflection of the chaos on the border,” Clark added.
But in the end, the proposal is probably all politics–not policy, said Fox News host Chris Wallace.
It’s largely simple “political retaliation,” Wallace said.
“Here’s my guess, and it is only a guess, take it for what it’s worth: This will never happen, this is the president saying, ‘We’re not going to cower and try to pretend we didn’t really do this. I’m going to double-down and suggest it. My base will like it.’ But will it ever happen? I would be shocked.”