Yesterday, The Hill reported that the Trump administration plans to use federal law enforcement agents in a campaign against American cities and counties who have challenged the Trump Administration’s mass deportation agenda. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan laid out a plan to send hundreds of ICE agents to so-called “sanctuary cities” across the nation in what appears to be an un unprecedented show of force by the federal government. As the article said:
The 30-year immigration agency veteran also said he has gotten a green light to hire 10,000 new immigration agents, who will work to arrest illegal criminals sheltered in sanctuary cities and elsewhere.
This isn’t the first time this has been reported, but the scale is jarring and clearly part of the Trump administration’s political agenda. In March, ICE agents bragged to two judges that they would be targeting Austin, Texas for a major immigration raid, and that the raid was retribution for sanctuary city-like policies implemented by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. That revelation contradicted what ICE originally said about the raid — that the operation was routine and that the Austin area was not being targeted.
Homan’s targeting of sanctuary cities should be terrifying to anyone observing all the norms the Trump presidency has shattered. The Trump Administration, Homan, and their ICE agents are carrying out enforcement tactics specifically against cities that don’t agree with them. That’s the kind of action one expects from dictators, not American presidents. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent threatening letters to ten jurisdictions deemed too friendly to immigrants; all but one of those jurisdictions are Democrat-led. If Homan is allowed to implement this plan, those cities and counties may have to brace for an invasion of unwanted federal ICE agents carrying out retaliatory raids in order to punish these jurisdictions to drive home their hardline political agenda.
Nobody in Trump Administration understands “sanctuary cities”
Over and over again, it’s been clear that no one in the Trump Administration understands what “sanctuary cities” actually are, or why city officials and residents might want sanctuary policies in place. Thomas Homan last month admitted that cities cooperating with ICE might result in innocent immigrants being deported — but seemingly did not make the connection about why the latter might be a problem for the former. Homan’s boss, DHS Secretary John Kelly, has called sanctuary cities “inconceivable to me”, and seems uninterested in learning why it makes sense to use discretion and priorities when it comes to deportations.Jeff Sessions has for months left cities confused about how the Administration currently defines sanctuary cities — and in fact, the current definition is basically meaningless.
Homan needs to look past the infantile Trump Administration conceit of how immigrants = bad and consider research finding that sanctuary cities are safer than those with less immigrant-friendly policies. He needs to talk all the city officials, police chiefs, and sheriffs who have spoken about how community policing suffers when immigrants become too afraid to talk to the police. And he needs to realize that attempted retaliation against these cities won’t do anything to change sanctuary policies when courts have repeatedly ruled against jurisdictions working too closely with ICE.
Maybe then he’ll see his current threat as what it really is: a political maneuver intended to harass and intimidate cities and counties who are more interested in protecting the public safety of their residents than in being conscripted into Trump’s mass deportation strategy.