WASHINGTON — Three Democratic House committee chairmen said Monday that the Trump administration lacks the legal authority to transfer undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities, and they’re calling on top officials to provide documents related to the plan’s consideration by early May.
“We are deeply troubled by multiple reports, recently confirmed by the President, that the Trump Administration is considering releasing detained immigrants into congressional districts represented by Democrats in a bizarre and unlawful attempt to score political points,” said the lawmakers' letter to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
Minutes after the letter's release, President Donald Trump appeared to confirm that the proposal was in the works. "Those 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!" he tweeted.
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The three House Democrats who sent the three-page letter were Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York; Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland; and Homeland Security Committee Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
Citing a report by The Washington Post, the chairmen wrote, “This proposal was considered at least twice in the last six months, and the president confirmed on April 12, 2019, that the proposal is once again being given 'strong considerations.'"
The reports are “alarming,” they wrote, adding, “Not only does the Administration lack the legal authority to transfer detainees in this manner, it is shocking that the President and senior Administration officials are even considering manipulating release decisions for purely political reasons.”
In the letter, the chairmen asked that several documents between last November and mid-April be provided to them by May 3, including emails and other communications between Department of Homeland Security officials and White House officials about the transfer or release of immigration detainees to specific locations in the U.S. They also asked for all DHS documents that discussed policy or legal justifications for such a plan.
Last week, Trump tweeted, “Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only ... ”
The president continued to defend the potential policy over the weekend.
On Saturday he tweeted that Democrats must change the immigration laws. Otherwise, he said, “Sanctuary Cities must immediately ACT to take care of the Illegal Immigrants — and this includes Gang Members, Drug Dealers, Human Traffickers, and Criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds. CHANGE THE LAWS NOW!”
In a separate tweet, Trump wrote, “Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!”