House Committee on Homeland Security chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) questioned the validity of the Trump administration’s proposed plan to send detained migrants to sanctuary cities during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday (April 14). 

“No, I don’t see a legal way to do this,” Thompson told host George Stephanopoulos. He also accused Trump of using immigration at the border as a way to manufacture “chaos.” Thompson didn’t hold back. “Before Donald Trump took office, we had a situation that was manageable,” Thompson said. “We had spikes, but it also went down, but what we have now is a constant pushing of the system so that it doesn’t work.”

 

Thompson’s statement came after Trump tweeted on Saturday (April 13) about his “absolute legal right” to send undocumented immigrants to “sanctuary cities.” 

According to The Washington Post, Trump’s proposed plan to have U.S. immigration officials release detained migrants in “sanctuary cities,” or cities that refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation, wasn’t just about punishing migrants, although that was part of it. He also wanted to retaliate against his political opponents. The president proposed the plan “at least twice in the past six months,” once in November and again in February, during the height of his fight with democrats over the border wall. Per The Post:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to DHS officials. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds.

The White House informed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that their plan was meant to “alleviate a shortage of detention space but also served to send a message to Democrats,” The Post reports. The legal department of ICE eventually rejected the idea as “inappropriate.” 

A White House official told ABC News on Thursday (April 11) that the proposed plan was “just a suggestion that was floated and rejected.” However, the president confirmed Friday (April 12) that a plan to move undocumented immigrants to “sanctuary cities” is still under consideration. “The asylum laws are absolutely insane. They come up. In many cases, they’re rough gang members,” Trump told reporters. “So we are looking at the possibility— strongly looking at it, to be honest with you.”

Thompson responded to Trump’s news with a statement of his own, saying, “[The president’s] reckless immigration agenda is not about keeping the country safe, but about partisan politics and wantonly inflicting cruelty.”