WASHINGTON — It is mystifying why Democrats are so up in arms about President Trump's declaration that he is considering releasing illegal immigrants into so-called "sanctuary cities." After all, Trump's plan simply follows the Democrats' own policy prescriptions for dealing with illegal immigrants.
First, Democrats support releasing illegal immigrants into U.S. communities. Just a few months ago, during the negotiations to end the government shutdown, Democrats sought to limit the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention "beds available for interior enforcement" to about 16,500 per day, and to reduce the overall number of available beds to less than 36,000. In January, ICE was holding 48,088 illegal immigrants.
When Homeland Security officials warned this could force the release of thousands illegal immigrants, Democrats openly declared it was their goal to do precisely that. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, said the goal of capping the beds was to "force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants."
Many other leading Democrats — including presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. — have gone further, proposing to abolish ICE altogether. In 2013, when she was House minority leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — now the House speaker — called for an end to deportations for illegal immigrants who have not committed felonies, declaring "Our view of the law is that ... if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation." Some Democrats, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and presidential candidate and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, have gone so far as to propose decriminalizing illegal border crossings entirely. "The truth is, immigrants seeking refuge in our country ... shouldn't be a criminal-justice issue," Castro said.
So, Democrats have been pretty clear — they want illegal immigrants released and allowed to live in the United States.
Where should they live? Well, it was Democrats who created "sanctuary cities" as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. If they want illegal immigrants released, why would they oppose having President Trump release them into the very sanctuaries they created for that express purpose?
If anything, the Democratic leaders of those sanctuary cities are working overtime to turn them into magnets for illegal immigrants.
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed in his 2019 inaugural address to make the entire state of California a "sanctuary to all who seek it," and on his first day in office, he proposed making illegal immigrants eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid, until age 26. Some sanctuary cities are even allowing illegal immigrants to vote in