WASHINGTON — House Democrats asked the White House and agency officials on Monday for internal documents on Trump administration deliberations on its proposal to send detained migrants to “sanctuary cities,” which are mostly Democratic strongholds.
The letter , which stopped short of demanding the communications, represented Democrats’ formal response to the idea. Authorities in sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with federal authorities seeking to remove immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“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,” said the letter, which was signed written by three House committee chairmen.
The letter says the plan seems aimed at targeting Democratic areas “in a bizarre and unlawful attempt to score political points,” citing news reports.
The proposal was rejected twice by administration officials, but President Donald Trump has defended the idea.
“The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities,” Trump tweeted Saturday. Trump has also been pushing to tighten immigration laws.
The plan comes as the administration has said it’s been overwhelmed by a flood of migrant families, largely from Central America, attempting to cross the southwestern border. The U.S. Border Patrol said the number of families apprehended in March, 53,000, set a new record, though Democrats say the administration is worsening the problem by aggressively detaining people caught entering illegally and limiting the number of applicants for refugee status who are processed.
The letter requests all relevant documents from Nov. 1, 2018, through Monday. It asks for them by May 3.
The letter was sent by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. It was sent to Mick Mulvaney, White House acting chief of staff, and Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Homeland Security Department.