Sarah Huckabee Sanders says busing immigrants to 'sanctuary cities' is 'not our first choice,' but 'the president likes the idea'
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said busing migrants to so-called "sanctuary cities" wouldn't be the administration's "first choice," but that President Donald Trump likes the idea.
- Reports emerged last week that Trump had weighed the option as a way to punish Democratic lawmakers.
- Homeland Security officials had reportedly pushed back against the plan, arguing it was inappropriate and legally dubious.
- But Sanders argued Sunday that the plan would help alleviate the burden on border communities.
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the Trump administration is doing a "full and thorough and extensive review" to see if it's possible to begin busing immigrants to so-called "sanctuary cities."
The Washington Post reported last week that the White House had weighed the option as a way to punish Democratic lawmakers. The Post reported that the Trump administration shelved the idea after Homeland Security officials pushed back, arguing it was inappropriate and legally dubious.
But after the report emerged, President Donald Trump doubled down on the idea and tweeted that he was still strongly considering the plan and that it should make Democrats "very happy!"
"That was brought up at a staff level, and it was determined at that time that logistically there were a lot of challenges and it probably didn't make sense to move forward, and the idea did not go further," Sanders told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
But she added that moving immigrants to sanctuary cities was "not the ideal situation," as Trump wants to prevent them from entering the country in the first place. A number of US mayors have pushed back against the insinuation that immigrants are dangerous criminals, and said immigrants are welcome in their cities.
"The president likes the idea, and Democrats have said they want these individuals into their communities. So let's see if it works and everybody gets a win out of it," she said. "Certainly this wouldn't be our first choice because, ideally, we wouldn't be dealing with a massive influx of illegal immigrants coming across the border."
Sanders added that bussing the migrants to such cities would also alleviate the burden on border communities and more evenly spread out the responsibility.
"Democrats have stated time and time again they support open borders, they support sanctuary cities," she said. "So let's spread out some of that burden and let's put it in some of those other locations if that's what they want to see happen and are refusing to actually help fix the problem."
The term "sanctuary cities" broadly refers to jurisdictions that limit their police departments' cooperation with federal immigration agents. The Trump administration has previously attempted to crack down on such areas by withholding federal grants, but courts have struck down those measures.
The Trump administration has faced backlash in recent weeks over reports that he tried to pressure his Homeland Security officials to violate the law in an effort to address the soaring numbers of migrant border-crossings in recent months.
CNN reported last week the Trump had told Border Patrol agents to block migrants from entering the US and seeking asylum, which they are legally entitled to do, and that he had told his then-Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, that he would pardon McAleenan if he were jailed over preventing migrants from entering.
Sanders shot down such rumors on Sunday, saying Trump respects US laws.
"We're a country of laws and we have a president who supports that," Sanders said. "No one's trying to skirt the law."
.@GStephanopoulos on potential transfer of undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities: "It actually could encourage more immigrants ... it seems to run counter to (Trump's) objectives."- This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 14, 2019
Sarah Sanders: "... again, not our first choice" https://t.co/QNl4j84pXc pic.twitter.com/E5AfsvVQYn