Three powerful House Democrats are requesting the White House release all documents relating to President Trump’s plan to conduct a targeted release of undocumented immigrants in so-called “sanctuary cities,” a policy intended to serve as retribution for Democrats for failing to sign on with the president’s immigration agenda.
In a letter sent on Monday morning, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS)—chairs of the House Oversight, Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, respectively—told acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that they are “deeply troubled” by the Trump administration’s proposal.
The plan to release immigrants currently in government detention into cities and congressional districts represented by Democrats, they wrote, is “a bizarre and unlawful attempt to score political points.” Such communities, as a matter of local law or policy, do not cooperate with federal immigration officials in arresting and detaining undocumented people unless they have been accused of committing another criminal offense.
Calling the plan “alarming,” the letter adds that the administration lacks both the legal authority and the ethical justification for manipulating detainee releases in service of scoring political points; and requests a host of documents relating to the plan, including any communications relating to conversations between the White House and immigration agencies regarding the release of migrants into specific areas, as well as all documents within the Department of Homeland Security “discussing policy or legal justifications or implications” for the policy.
The letter asks for the documents “by no later than May 3, 2019.”
Trump’s plan—which was first reported by the Washington Post before the president confirmed it via Twitter on Friday—is an apparent attempt to bait local Democratic lawmakers in sanctuary cities into protesting the release of immigrants into their communities, although mayors of numerous such cities told The Daily Beast that they would welcome any former detainees with open arms.
“I am proud that Cambridge is a sanctuary city,” Mayor Marc McGovern told The Daily Beast. “Trump is a schoolyard bully who tries to intimidate and threaten people. I’m not intimidated and if asylum seekers find their way to Cambridge, we’ll welcome them.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.