After President Trump confirmed a plan to move detained undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities as a way to punish his political enemies, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said he doesn't see a legal way for the administration to implement the proposal.
When asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Sunday if he saw any way for the administration to do that legally, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said, “No, I don’t.”
“More importantly, this is again his manufactured chaos that he’s created over the last two years on the border,” he said.
"Before Donald Trump took office, we had a situation that was manageable,” continued Thompson. “We had spikes, but it also went down, but what we have now is a constant pushing of the system so that it doesn't work."
Thompson added: “Rather than being punitive, the president has to step up and provide real leadership, which he’s failed to do on immigration.”
“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,” Trump said at an afternoon event at the White House Friday. “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 can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply, and let’s see if they’re so happy.”
The proposal was met with a fierce backlash Friday from Democrats.
“The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement Friday. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal.”
Mayors of sanctuary cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, which do not comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), responded to the president’s plan, saying they would “welcome these immigrants.”
On Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that the proposal to move immigrants to sanctuary cities “is an option on the table.”
“We talked about a number of different things over the last two years that we’d love to see happen,” she said. “Certainly this wouldn’t be our first choice because, ideally, we wouldn’t be dealing with the massive influx of illegal immigrants coming across the border.”
Trump, who tweeted last week that “our country is full,” has repeatedly threatened to close the southern border, where there has been a record-breaking surge of U.S.-bound migrants. The majority of those taken into U.S. custody are from Central America. During his last visit to the border, Trump reportedly urged Homeland Security officials to not let migrants in.
Sanders disputed these reports.
“Homeland Security pushed back on this as has the president,” said Sanders. “The president is actually, the president trying to enforce laws not go around them. We're a country of laws, and we have a president who supports that and is not asking anybody to do anything outside of those bounds.”
“In fact,” she added, “he's asking Congress to step up and give greater legal standing so they can do more to stop this crisis. No one’s trying to skirt the law and certainly not being encouraged by the president to do so.”
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