The Fact Zone:
- President Trump floated the idea of sending immigrants to “sanctuary” cities on Thursday, April 11th
- Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not rule out the possibility when she spoke with Chris Wallace on Fox News regarding the potential policy maneuver.
- People living in “sanctuary” cities seem to be open to the idea of bringing in more immigrants, regardless of screening procedures.
- ICE, under former president Obama, did something similar, dropping off 400 immigrants at an Arizona bus station, and several hundred more were scheduled to be dropped off in Murrieta, California before they were taken to San Francisco.
- Border crossings have been unable to deal with the flood of immigrants since at least 2014.
Last week, President Trump floated the idea of sending detained illegal immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities. This move comes after the battle over border security that shut down the government for three months, which ended with a $333 billion deal. The deal, passed in mid-February, funded 55 miles of barriers along the Rio Grande Valley; 200 new border patrol agents—though not through the full year; 600 new customs agents; $192 million for a new family detention and processing center; and $414 million in humanitarian aid, among other provisions.
Democrats and many others have been highly critical of the Trump administration’s handling of the border crisis. Many, many articles have been written about the practice of family separation which has become somewhat of a hallmark of Trump’s thoughts on border security. The practice, in a very narrow sense, began under President Obama, when children were separated from the adults who accompanied them if authorities were, “concern(ed) for their well-being or could not confirm that the adult was, in fact, their legal guardian.”
Trump, having campaigned on tough border security, directed the justice department to enforce the immigration laws that were on the books. The directive took the form of a “zero-tolerance” interpretation of immigration law. This meant that adults would be charged with entering the country illegally, and would be prosecuted, which in turn meant that children would be sent to separate facilities while their parents went through the legal system.
Meanwhile, the flood of immigrants and refugees has been unceasing since the Obama administration. Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had been tweeting for at least the last several weeks about the issues that her department was dealing with at the border.
We face a cascading crisis at our southern border. The system is in freefall. @DHSgov is doing everything possible to respond to a growing humanitarian catastrophe while also securing our borders, but we have reached peak capacity & are now forced to pull from other missions.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) March 29, 2019
Nielsen’s tweets speak to the problem of sheer numbers that border crossings are dealing with. Simply put, there are no facilities to house people, and judges are overwhelmed with asylum requests.
All of this works in concert to produce a situation that is very difficult to deal with. The being said, it appears that Democrats are somewhat reluctant to address the problems. Rep. Ilhan Omar, for her part, tweeted out two seemingly contradictory views on the border:
This is abhorrent and inhumane.
It's without a doubt a reflection of what white nationalism is doing to our country. As a country, we have to acknowledge that this is how people are being treated here and decide that we are better and we must do better. https://t.co/5YNAJFNZo7
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 28, 2019
and six days later:
This is a fake emergency! Donald Trump is lying about the border in order to build his monument to racism. https://t.co/hVOVzLYDHw
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 3, 2019
If members of Congress hold two different ideas on what is happening at the border, it is unlikely that there will be any legislative action to alleviate the problems.
In the meantime, the idea of sending immigrants to sanctuary cities seems to have some political validity to it, though it is unlikely to address the root problem at the border. Time will tell if the administration follows through on the idea.
Politically speaking, the move makes a lot of sense for President Trump. If there are cities that are unwilling to share the release dates of jail inmates who are in the country illegally to federal officials, then it would stand to reason that these cities would not take issue with receiving illegal immigrants. Assuming that the person’s only crime was crossing the border illegally, there shouldn’t be an issue with sanctuary cities receiving these immigrants.
This move would also call a lot of policies into question. Two that specifically come to mind are the issuance of drivers licenses, and providing in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants in Colorado. With thousands of people showing up at the border on a daily basis, this policy might prove to be a massive financial burden to those who live in these cities. On the other hand, it might prove to be a net gain for the cities that accept these immigrants.
In practice, the idea is unlikely to produce truly positive results. Even if illegal immigrants were sent to sanctuary cities, there is nothing stopping them from getting to wherever they were intending to go. In addition, it provides even more incentive for people to attempt to get into the country, further hampering a system which is completely overwhelmed as it is.
Now, if we were going to incentivize people to immigrate to the United States, I think the biggest thing that we need to do is eliminate the welfare system. Not completely, mind you, but I am curious about the idea of a “universal basic income” in which individuals below a certain income would receive $1,000 a month in cash with no other benefits. I think that you could potentially kill three birds with one stone there. You may reduce the deficit, increase immigration, and reduce the ever-growing welfare state that we have created. That aside, one thing is clear to everyone.
Our immigration system is a complete mess. Addressing the crisis is going to take time that we don’t have. Without the infrastructure to deal with the sheer number of people who are trying to get into the country, we are going to continue to have a problem, regardless of who the president is. The ultimate point here is that we need to reduce the number of people who are attempting to get into the country while we build the infrastructure to deal with them; alternatively, we need to reduce the welfare state so that we can let people in, but we aren’t giving out more benefits than we can handle. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!