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Send Illegal Aliens to Sanctuary Cities? Be careful what you wish for.

President Trump, during his Tax Day visit to Burnsville, Minnesota told the audience that Minnesota had not been treated fairly on immigration.  He mentioned it several times.

A number of people asked me at the event about the President’s threat to send all the people pouring over our dysfunctional “border” to cities that have declared themselves “sanctuary cities.” That list may include Minneapolis, St. Paul and Worthington, depending on how you define “sanctuary city.” And it could include the entire state if the next election hands Gov. Walz a DFL-majority legislature.

According to Pat Kessler at WCCO, Gov. Walz said he would make Minnesota a sanctuary state during the campaign for governor:

Walz does, indeed, support sanctuary state status for Minnesota. He released this written statement to Reality Check:

My position on Minnesota becoming a sanctuary state boils down to who has the responsibility for enforcing immigration laws. Here’s what I believe: Congress has given federal agencies the authority to enforce immigration laws in Minnesota, and I support their doing so. Congress has not given local law enforcement that same authority. The role of law enforcement is to enforce state and local laws, not federal immigration laws, and I strongly believe that they should not do so.

All Minnesotans are safer when the limited resources of local law enforcement are focused on local crimes, and when everyone feels safe to cooperate fully with the police. For example, if your neighbor witnesses someone breaking into your home, you are safer when your neighbor knows their immigration status is not at risk if they call the police.

Trump’s threat is brilliant political theater. “You want illegal immigrants? Then I will deliver them all to your doorstep. Here you go!”

But is this good policy? Or even good politics?

The editorial board at The Wall Street Journal, which is more supportive of legal immigration, and maybe more tolerant of illegal immigration than Trump, has been with the president on declaring the situation at our southern border an absolute crisis. But they are not with the president on sending all these “asylum seekers” and the children they rode in on, to his political enemies around the country.

I think they have provided President Trump with wise counsel:

Donald Trump says many things to be provocative that never happen, and maybe his threat to unleash asylum-seeking immigrants to sanctuary cities is another example. We hope so because while such a policy may taunt Democratic mayors, it contradicts two important legal and political interests.

Immigration control is a federal responsibility under the Constitution, an argument Mr. Trump and conservatives have been making against “sanctuary” laws that defy federal enforcement. Yet if he started busing immigrants to San Francisco or Seattle—in addition to the practical problems—he would be legitimizing the idea that states and cities can run their own policy. This won’t help his Administration’s legal case in any lawsuit against sanctuary cities.

And it would increase the likelihood that these migrants will remain in the U.S. for years under city and state protection. This is all too typical of the Trump White House’s self-defeating immigration policy record—like refusing to compromise on Dreamers, making immigration the main 2018 election issue, and shutting down the government over the wall.

Most sanctuary cities are in Democratic strongholds, so by sending thousands of immigrants there Mr. Trump would also be adding to their strength in reapportionment for Congress after the 2020 Census. Tens or hundreds of thousands of new non-citizens in California or New York would be counted toward the number of seats in Congress and Electoral College votes those states will have. Relatively fewer migrants settle in the rural heartland.

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case about whether the Commerce Department can include a citizenship question in the Census, but Commerce may lose. Why would Mr. Trump want to give California more Congressional clout than, say, Missouri?

We doubt the President has thought about any of this. His sanctuary city taunt is designed to get media attention and make Democrats fulminate. They are doing so right on cue, though note some mayors are saying they’ll welcome the migrants. Maybe they’ve figured out what Mr. Trump apparently hasn’t.

I think President Trump was referring the Refugee Resettlement program run by the U.S. State Department in his remarks in Burnsville on Tax Day, not to immigration policy in general (though Minnesota has its fair share of illegal and legal immigrants pulling hard on the welfare state and impacting taxes, jobs and wages for Minnesotans).

Minnesota is the number one destination for refugees in the country. Refugees are legal immigrants, eligible for all the welfare benefits of a citizen and special consideration for obtaining green cards and becoming citizens. Once the are established, refugees can bring in family members, though the process can take many years.  This is the bad immigration policy that only Congress can fix.

Trump has done a great deal to slow the flow of refugees by vetting people up front (to see if they will follow laws against, for example, polygamy and female genital mutilation) and lowering the number of refugees admitted to the country on an annual basis (from 110,ooo under President Obama to 30,000). Minnesota used to get about 2, 500 refugees a year; we got about 725 last year.

Given Minnesota’s leadership in the metro and the governor’s mansion, if you are cheering on the idea of punishing sanctuary cities, be careful what you wish for.

Minnesota’s already overburdened welfare state would grow if the administration carried out this policy. And imagine, given Minnesota’s free-for-all at the voting booth and loose absentee ballot laws, how voter fraud could change the state forever.

 

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