Should the U.S. send migrants to 'sanctuary cities'?

The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.

Speed read

What’s happening: The number of people illegally crossing the southern border hit a 12-year high in March. In response, President Trump says he is considering a plan to transport detained immigrants to “sanctuary cities” (many of which are in the home states of Democratic politicians who have opposed his requested border wall funding) and release them there as retaliation against his political opponents. He tweeted: “Only The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”

Why it’s sparking debate: The phrase “sanctuary cities” refers to communities with policies that allow local officials to limit their agencies’ compliance in enforcing federal immigration laws that could force deportation. These cities include Oakland, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Boston and New York. Some of these cities, which often lean Democratic, are engaged in legal battles over their “sanctuary” status.

Trump’s plan generated swift and strong reactions, with some decrying the proposal as “really grotesque” and “insane,” and others calling it “ingenious” and blaming Congress for not coming up with a better plan on immigration. Trump fueled the debate further in a Twitter exchange with the mayor of Oakland and singer Cher, a frequent critic of the president.

Some speculate that the president’s proposal for migrants is not meant to be taken literally. Republican Sen. Rick Scott said Trump may be just trying “to make everybody crazy.” Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh says Trump’s plan highlights the “utter lawlessness” of sanctuary cities and the “hypocrisy” of the leaders behind those policies.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that the White House was considering the plan, and although it was not the “first choice,” she said, “We have to look at all options as long as Democrats refuse to do their jobs and fix the problem.”

What’s next: Communities across the country are faced with how to deal with the growing migrant population and the issue of immigration overall. In California, a recent court ruling kept in place three state laws intended to protect immigrants. Florida lawmakers are debating a hotly contested Republican bill banning sanctuary city policies.

If President Trump’s proposal goes forward, it will face multiple obstacles. Transporting people to various cities would be costly and logistically complicated. Legal experts warn that the plan could be illegal, citing a federal law that bars executive branch employees from using government resources for political purposes. One analysis predicted an ironic twist if the plan took effect: The move might make it easier for migrants to stay in the United States.

Meanwhile, support for migrants traveling through Mexico is fading. Amid pressure from the Trump administration, Mexico has sent back 15,000 migrants in the past month and is pushing for the U.S. to invest in Central America to help stem the flow of people leaving.

Perspectives

Sanctuary cities should bear the consequences of their support.

Today’s sanctuary cities and states have nothing to do with their original intent or outcome. Those living in this country without legal permission have broken the law, but are simultaneously protected by the law. Does this make sense? … One of the president’s problems has been his lack of focus. He throws proposals against a congressional wall to see if any will stick. He should stick with one and bring public opinion with him. The ultimate solution lies with a do-nothing Congress and only it can solve the problem. For political reasons, members of both parties refuse to do so. Those who support sanctuary cities ought to experience the consequences of that support in their own front and backyards. — Cal Thomas, Washington Times

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would consider it punishment were her city saddled with more undocumented migrants while they await their court hearings. … Yet, even if the proposal was crafted as a politically cynical move, it doesn’t explain why Democrats wouldn’t eagerly invite more illegals or undocumented asylum seekers into the districts and cities that are supposed to be the most welcoming. Pelosi had said herself Thursday, “Of course there’s room and there’s a need” for more immigrants showing up at the border. Okay, but not in San Francisco!”
— Eddie Scarry, Washington Examiner

Migrants welcome.

Trump has made immigration the centerpiece of his presidency, yet he has botched it at just about every turn. He fundamentally doesn’t understand that tens of thousands of people are arriving at the border because, in most cases, they fear for their lives if they remain in their homes. Or they are fleeing deadening poverty. Pounding his chest and bellowing about a wall addresses none of that. And neither does releasing migrants in the sanctuary cities and states. But it would at least drop the desperate into much more caring hands than they experience with the Trump administration. — Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times

The plan for migrants undercuts Trump’s own interests.

Most sanctuary cities are in Democratic strongholds, so by sending thousands of immigrants there Mr. Trump would also be adding to their strength in reapportionment for Congress after the 2020 Census. … We doubt the President has thought about any of this. His sanctuary city taunt is designed to get media attention and make Democrats fulminate. They are doing so right on cue, though note some mayors are saying they’ll welcome the migrants. Maybe they’ve figured out what Mr. Trump apparently hasn’t. – Editorial board, Wall Street Journal

Both Republicans and Democrats are showing their ugliness.

When dealing with immigrants and refugees, Trump and the Republican Party that he has hijacked have a gift for saying and doing things that are dumb, cruel, and even racist. The Democrats take full advantage of these missteps by spinning fantastical yarns about how they’re much more enlightened, caring and compassionate toward our uninvited guests to the point where they offer ‘sanctuary.’ Thanks to Trump’s plan to give these so-called sanctuary cities, counties and states what they claim they want, we now see both parties for who they really are. And it’s ugly. — Ruben Navarrette, USA Today

Trump is hell-bent on ‘owning the libs.’

But no lib-owning tweet can hold a candle to Trump’s announcement over the weekend that he is considering busing thousands of refugees to ‘sanctuary cities.’ … Many conservative commentators have celebrated this triumph of lib-owning, even as they concede in mumbled parentheticals that it won’t actually happen — not least because it’s almost certainly illegal without congressional authorization, which will never materialize. But some conservatives continue to defend Trump’s theatrics on the grounds that people should take him seriously but not literally. But taken either way, the idea is nuttier than a squirrel’s preferred last meal. — Jonah Goldberg, National Review

It’s political posturing and an abuse of power.

This proposal by the president is certainly not presidential. It’s a gross abuse of power. The president claims these people are dangerous. … 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. — Leslie Marshall, Fox News

The president’s proposal is just a stunt and scare tactic.

President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans would rather rile up their base about so-called sanctuary cities than seek bipartisan solutions to fix a broken immigration system. Trump’s latest tactic is threatening to transfer immigrants who entered the country illegally to sanctuary cities, as cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities have been labeled. The idea faces legal and logistical obstacles, leading even some Trump supporters to suggest the president isn’t serious. — Editorial board, Gainesville Sun

Mr. Trump regularly complains that apprehended illegal immigrants are released into society while awaiting their court dates. It’s a legitimate gripe, but shipping immigrants to sanctuary cities would only increase the odds that they don’t show up for their hearings. And it will make those cities even more of a magnet for fake asylum seekers and others who shouldn’t be in the country. The frustration with cities that coddle illegal immigrants is understandable. Sanctuary policies make life easier for violent criminal immigrants and more dangerous for the law-abiding fellow immigrants on whom they prey most often. Yet the president seems more interested in punishing the Democratic politicians who typically run these cities, even if the results are counterproductive. — Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal

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