April 12 – Democratic U.S. mayors said on Friday their cities would welcome illegal immigrants, dismissing President Donald Trump’s threats to transport people detained at the border to “sanctuary cities” as illustrating the White House’s callous approach to the issue.
Trump confirmed on Twitter that he wanted to transport people detained in his immigration crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border to sanctuary cities, an informal designation for those that refrain from assisting federal immigration authorities in detaining people living in the country illegally.
Mayors from across the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Philadelphia, were quick to respond to Trump’s latest portrayal of immigrants and sanctuary cities as threats.
“The city would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement on Friday. “This White House plan demonstrates the utter contempt that the Trump Administration has for basic human dignity.”
The Republican president has made cracking down on illegal and legal immigration a centerpiece of his administration, and has regularly threatened to try to cut federal funding to programs in generally Democratic-leaning sanctuary cities, counties and states.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump wrote on Twitter, confirming a Washington Post report.
“These are people, not pawns, Mr. President,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote on Twitter late on Thursday, after the news of the plan broke.
At least one governor, New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, weighed in, calling the plan “absurd, sad and all too characteristic of the president – not to mention indicative of a complete and cruel indifference to the plight of migrant families.”
The mayors of Oakland, California, and Takoma Park, Maryland, voiced similar reactions.
Trump’s latest move on immigration comes days after U.S. officials said they arrested or denied entry to over 103,000 people along the border with Mexico in March, more than twice as many as the same period last year.
The increase has been driven by a growing number of children and families, who made up two-thirds of those detained in March, the data showed. Many come seeking asylum, a process that Trump has routinely criticized.
“I am shocked but not surprised that once again this president is playing a cynical game with people’s lives in order to score political points,” Jesse Arreguin, mayor of Berkeley, California, said in a statement. “Rather than supporting a real pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in this country, he is fanning the flames of division.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)