The double danger of Trump’s proposal to drop migrants in sanctuary cities – Washington Examiner

The Trump administration is reportedly considering releasing migrants detained at the southern border on the streets of so-called sanctuary cities. Not only is this a clear abuse of power, but it is an abuse that seemingly seeks to enact revenge on jurisdictions because of their commitment to enforcing basic constitutional rights.

As the Washington Post reported on Thursday, the idea was explicitly political. As one congressional investigator explained to the Post: “What happened here is that Stephen Miller called people at ICE, said if they’re going to cut funding, you’ve got to make sure you’re releasing people in Pelosi’s district and other congressional districts.”

Wielding law enforcement as a tool to secure political advantage by, for example, deliberately releasing detained migrants in heavily Democratic areas undermines the basic idea of rule of law by replacing a commitment to justice with bowing to the whims of a political leader for partisan ends. Not only does this undermine the most basic premise of justice, but it also presumes that law enforcement should be beholden to the president, regardless of the constraints of law.

But the proposal to simply drop migrants in so-called sanctuary cities around the country is a step more pernicious even than simply supporting an authoritarian-style abuse of power.

Sanctuary cities, despite their frequent characterization as simply safe havens for illegal immigrants, are more accurately jurisdictions that refuse to abridge civil liberties simply because ICE wants them to.

This is an important distinction. Outside of sanctuary cities, ICE can, without a warrant, request that individuals be detained and held or turned over to the agency. That process skirts constitutionally protected rights such as due process as well as prohibitions against government detention without cause. Moreover, the concern that collaboration with ICE would be abused and undermine civil liberties is not an abstract fear but one that has played out in reality even resulting in the unlawful detention of citizens.

That the Trump administration would actively suggest not only undermining the rule of law but do so with the explicit aim of targeting cities because of their commitment to defending civil liberties merits no defense. That the White House would float such an idea in the first place should be a concern to citizens of all political inclinations as it demonstrates clear contempt for legal limits on power and a casual willingness to disregard even the most basic laws and principles.

Thankfully, this time such a plan was flat-out rejected by the legal department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and prompted whistleblowers to approach Congress. But as Trump looks to take immigration enforcement in a tougher direction, it seems to be just these sort of objections that he would like to circumvent.

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