White House officials had apparently looked into releasing undocumented immigrants into so-called sanctuary cities. The plan appears to have been part of an effort to punish Democrats and cities that were bucking President Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration.
If Trump officials had had their way, immigrants would have been bused to small and mid-sized sanctuary cities. These cities have largely refused to hand over immigrants and to cooperate with crackdown policies. White House officials first argued that the plan was in response to a lack of bed space in detention centers.
However, officials at the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pushed back against the plan. One top official responded to pressure from the White House by noting that the plan would create budgetary headaches and possible legal liabilities. Other officials cited public relations concerns.
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued: “The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated. Using human beings —including little children— as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
Currently, immigrants can cross into the United States and claim asylum. From there on out their claim is processed by the court system. Some immigrants are detained. However, owing to a lack of bed space, many are simply released into the United States.
President Trump has argued that sanctuary cities are a threat to the public and that they are releasing “thousands of known criminals from their custody and right back into the community.” Critics allege that this is overstated and note that undocumented immigrants actually commit fewer crimes on average than native-born citizens.