Trump Doubles Down on Plan to Release Migrants in Sanctuary Cities

It’s unclear whether his latest threat is any more serious than the last one.

Immigrant families and activists rally outside the Tennessee State Capitol against a bill to prohibit sanctuary city policies in the state in May.Drew Angerer/Getty

Two days after President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States has the “absolute legal right” to send detained migrants to sanctuary cites, he appeared to double down Monday, tweeting that they will be “given” to sanctuary cities, “subject to Homeland Security.” 

The Department of Homeland Security has not announced an official policy regarding the potential release of immigrant detainees in sanctuary cities and states, and officials with the agency have not responded to Mother Jones‘ request for comment. 

DHS officials have said Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are all overwhelmed by the influx of Central American migrants at the border and that there isn’t enough space to detain them. But in recent days, there have been reports of detention facilities operating well below capacity. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, for example, can hold up to 2,400 people, but as of early April, it held just 499, as KQED reported.

This push to send migrants to sanctuary jurisdictions appears to come as retaliation against cities and states that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. It has been led by immigrant hardliners within the administration, particularly White House adviser Stephen Miller, and it comes amid turmoil in DHS leadership

Historically, many migrants have settled in large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, as well as border cities like Tucson and El Paso, which are known to have support networks and strong immigrant communities. As many immigrant advocates have argued, the administration would be busing or flying migrants to sanctuary cities that already receive many migrants.

Jenny Durkan, the Democratic mayor of Seattle, said in an op-ed Friday evening that “Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees,” adding that the sanctuary city has always welcomed them. 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.