The White House came up with a plan to bus detained immigrants to sanctuary cities, all as a way to punish Democrats in those districts.
Donald Trump continues to find ways to shock the conscience. This time, it's learning that his administration wanted to take detained immigrants and release them on the streets of sanctuary cities as a way of hitting back against Democrats.
It's all just more proof that Trump genuinely doesn't view immigrants as humans. It's always been obvious he views them as a way to inflame his reprehensible base. Now it's clear he also sees them as pawns in a battle against his political opponents.
At least twice in the past six months, the Trump team floated the idea of taking immigrants who had been detained by ICE and busing them into districts represented by Democrats, including San Francisco, represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They believed this would be a punishment for Democrats and the sanctuary cities they represent.
Only in the fevered imagination of Trump diehards is the mere presence of immigrants a punishment.
In November 2018, one of Trump's policy coordinators wrote to ICE and DHS saying an idea had been raised that "if we are unable to build sufficient temporary housing, that caravan members be bussed to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities."
That idea got smacked down, but not because it was monstrous. Instead, it was determined it would be too much of an "operational burden" and might open up other liability issues, such as what happened if there was an accident while immigrants were being transported.
In February 2019, the White House pitched the idea again, this time as a way to force Democrats to agree to fund additional detention beds for migrants. Again, this plan didn't fail because someone in the White House pointed out it was inhuman and stupid, but because the Democrats eventually relented on the detention bed issue.
It's no coincidence that, as all this plays out, DHS and ICE leadership is being purged as Trump tries to find someone vicious enough to carry out his plans. Even though former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was more than happy to put babies in cages, that wasn't enough.
At ICE, Trump just pulled the nomination of Ron Vitiello because he wanted the agency to go in a "tougher direction." Vitiello's likely replacement is Matt Albence, who once called detention facilities for immigrant children "like a summer camp."
At the apex of it all, Stephen Miller. In an administration filled with anti-immigrant zealots, Miller still stands out — and now he's fully in charge of immigration policy.
With Miller at the helm, there won't be even the minuscule moderating force that someone like Nielsen might have provided. Expect ideas even more awful than this to take hold and even thrive.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.