Thursday, April 25, 2024

California responds as Trump threatens to send asylum seekers to ‘sanctuary cities’

California Democrats this week stepped up their attacks on President Trump over his threat to send immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities, even as experts suggested the president’s plan could backfire and lure more migrants to the north.

Gov. Gavin Newsom labeled the president’s proposed policy nonsensical, saying Trump campaigned on deporting more immigrants, but his latest plan looks as if he intends to allow some migrants to remain in the U.S. “Which one is it, Mr. President?” Newsom asked rhetorically, in an interview with The Times.

The governor insisted the federal government is already “dumping people” in California by processing migrants legally seeking asylum at the border and releasing them into California before they have time to connect with their sponsors. Several mayors also reacted; L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that immigrants “are people, not pawns,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told Trump to stop fanning “hate and division,” and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called for “sensible solutions.”

On Monday, Trump doubled down on his threat to send immigrants to “sanctuary cities,” a proposal first revealed by the Washington Post. He tweeted that “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!”

Trump’s own aides have told him that such a policy on releasing migrants would likely be illegal and unfeasible — an assessment backed by former immigration officials and legal experts. It’s unclear what authority, if any, the administration would have to bus migrants from detention centers near the border and release them into sanctuary cities and other Democratic strongholds broadly opposed to Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration.

Trump and California Democrats are appealing to their respective political bases by attacking one another. David Dorsen, a public policy expert and legal scholar based in Washington, D.C., said Trump’s threat to send migrants to sanctuary cities is a problem even if it doesn’t become a reality because it might entice more people to make the treacherous trip north. “They’ll say ‘This is a new way of coming to the United States. Let’s go.’