Trump not done with plan for mi­grants

Sanc­tu­ary cities as des­ti­na­tion among op­tions, aide says

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Front Page - By Feli­cia Son­mez and Mike DeBo­nis

WASH­ING­TON — White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders said Sun­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has asked his ad­min­is­tra­tion to take an­other look at a plan that would send mi­grant de­tainees to “sanc­tu­ary cities,” in re­tal­i­a­tion against Trump’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

The pro­posal, first re­ported by The Wash­ing­ton Post last week, has been re­jected twice in the past six months over le­gal, bud­getary and other con­cerns.

“Cer­tainly, we’re look­ing at all op­tions,” San­ders said on “Fox News Sun­day.” She said the pro­posal is not an “ideal so­lu­tion,” but that if Democrats refuse to ne­go­ti­ate with Trump on bor­der se­cu­rity, the White House is pre­pared to “put some of those peo­ple into their com­mu­ni­ties” and see how the Democrats re­act.

In an ap­pear­ance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” White House coun­selor Kellyanne Conway ac­cused an “un­se­ri­ous Congress” of not tak­ing tougher ac­tion to stop mi­grants from cross­ing into the coun­try.

“The Repub­li­cans failed to do their job when they were in charge, no doubt,” she said. “And the Democrats now are fail­ing to come to­gether in the House.”

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Lind­sey Gra­ham, RS.C., mean­while, said Sun­day that he is plan­ning to in­tro­duce a new im­mi­gra­tion re­form pack­age af­ter

the Sen­ate re­turns from re­cess, al­though he did not give an ex­act date.

The leg­is­la­tion “will de­ter peo­ple from Cen­tral Amer­ica from con­tin­u­ing to come, change our asy­lum laws, make sure you have more than 20 days to deal with an un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nor and send peo­ple back to Cen­tral Amer­ica,” Gra­ham said on Fox News Chan­nel’s “Sun­day Morn­ing Fu­tures.”

The lawmaker made clear that both the White House and Re­pub­li­can lead­ers in the Sen­ate were reach­ing out to their Demo­cratic col­leagues in an at­tempt to gain bi­par­ti­san sup­port for the pack­age.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion is go­ing around Congress talk­ing to Democrats about what they want if we do change the laws, what they would like in re­turn,” Gra­ham said. “I’m go­ing to try to find a com­pro­mise here.”

Two Demo­cratic House com­mit­tee chair­men on Sun­day swiftly pushed back against Trump’s tar­get­ing of sanc­tu­ary cities, ac­cus­ing him of seek­ing to take a po­ten­tially il­le­gal ac­tion to keep the mi­grant is­sue alive dur­ing the 2020 cam­paign rather than work to solve the prob­lem.

“The pres­i­dent has no right to spend money ap­pro­pri­ated by Congress for other pur­poses to ship im­mi­grants all over the coun­try,” House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, D-N.Y., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added that it was wrong for Trump to “use im­mi­grants or peo­ple who are claim­ing po­lit­i­cal asy­lum as pawns in a fight against po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.”

Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ben­nie Thomp­son, DMiss., speak­ing on ABC News’ “This Week,” called the plan part of the “man­u­fac­tured chaos” cre­ated by Trump at the bor­der.

“Be­fore Don­ald Trump took of­fice, we had a sit­u­a­tion that was man­age­able — 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 said. “Rather than be­ing puni­tive, the pres­i­dent has to step up and pro­vide real lead­er­ship, which he’s failed to do on im­mi­gra­tion.”

The Post re­ported Thurs­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had been eye­ing dis­tricts of po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries, in­clud­ing that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which to re­lease de­tainees. The dis­clo­sure of the plan — which was ex­plic­itly re­jected in Novem­ber and Fe­bru­ary by of­fi­cials in the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity — drew wide­spread re­crim­i­na­tions.

Trump on Fri­day took own­er­ship of the plan, declar­ing that he would “bring — I call them the ‘il­le­gals’ be­cause they en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally — to sanc­tu­ary cities and ar­eas and let those par­tic­u­lar ar­eas take care of it.”

Among the Democrats crit­i­ciz­ing Trump on Sun­day was Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who said the pres­i­dent was “not re­ally in­ter­ested in a so­lu­tion.”

“My un­der­stand­ing is it’s not le­gal,” Cardin said on “Fox News Sun­day.” “There’s no bud­get for that pur­pose. This is a clearly po­lit­i­cal move for the pres­i­dent. He’s us­ing the im­mi­grants as pawns in his po­lit­i­cal game of chess.”

Demo­cratic Wash­ing­ton Gov. Jay Inslee, who is run­ning for pres­i­dent, also took aim at the pro­posal.

“You can’t threaten some­body with some­thing they’re not afraid of. And we are not afraid of di­ver­sity in the state of Wash­ing­ton,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

Thomp­son said that Democrats are will­ing to sit down and talk with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion — echo­ing com­ments made last week by Pelosi and other Demo­cratic lead­ers — but that any ef­fort to reach a bi­par­ti­san ac­cord was be­ing ham­strung by the lead­er­ship va­can­cies at the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, which he said have left it “rud­der­less.”

Nadler sug­gested that White House aide Stephen Miller, per­haps the most in­flu­en­tial voice in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, “ought to come be­fore Congress and ex­plain some of th­ese poli­cies.”

White House staffers typ­i­cally do not ap­pear be­fore con­gres­sional com­mit­tees, but Nadler said Miller would have lit­tle ba­sis to refuse such a re­quest. “He seems to be mak­ing the de­ci­sions, not the Cabi­net sec­re­taries who come and go,” the Demo­cratic lawmaker said.

PAUL RATJE/GETTY-AFP

The White House said Sun­day that it is still con­sid­er­ing re­leas­ing mi­grant de­tainees into sanc­tu­ary cities.

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