You ought to be working on this regulation all day every day. It should be the first thought you have when you wake up. And it should be the last thought you have before you go to bed. And sometimes you shouldn’t go to bed.
That, apparently, is what a “furious” Stephen Miller shrieked at Ron Vitiello last month during a meeting in the Situation Room where officials convened to discuss progress on the administration’s immigration agenda.
Two people present for the meeting said Miller variously “berated” participants, demanding to know why more hadn’t been done to advance a series of legally dubious policy proposals including, according to The New York Times, “a regulation to deny welfare benefits to legal immigrants [and] new rules that would overturn court-ordered protections for migrant children.”
Shortly thereafter, Vitiello’s nomination to lead ICE was yanked, Kirstjen Nielsen was unceremoniously ousted along with Secret Service director “Tex” Alles, and reports indicated Miller was busy making “intimidating” phone calls to officials at DHS, Justice and State.
It soon became clear that Miller had finally succeeded in commandeering immigration policy, which means that going forward, the administration will push the most draconian version of an already hardline agenda.
Late last week, The Washington Post reported that Miller had pushed for a plan to round up immigrants and “bus” them to sanctuary cities. A day later, reports suggested Trump had instructed Kevin McAleenan (Nielsen’s “temporary” replacement) to close the border even if it meant breaking the law – apparently, Trump dangled a pardon in front of McAleenan, although the president would later insist that never happened.
Of course, the White House also insisted that the idea to round up immigrants and bus them to Democratic districts as a way to punish Trump’s political rivals was “ended without further discussion” after ICE’s legal department rejected the idea, calling it, quote, “inappropriate”.
Just hours later, however, Trump himself took to Twitter to say that the plan was still under consideration and on Monday, he appeared to confirm that the administration will now attempt to carry it out.
“Those Illegal Immigrants who can no longer be legally held (Congress must fix the laws and loopholes) will be, subject to Homeland Security, given to Sanctuary Cities and States!”, Trump shouted into the Twitter void shortly after lunchtime, after spending (quite literally) all morning tweeting about everything from Boeing’s marketing strategy for the 737 to the Mueller report to Ilhan Omar.
To reiterate, Trump is talking about using human beings (and children) as pawns, shipping them around on buses and dropping them off on the streets. The optics around this plan are so laughably bad that, if you were a Democrat, you might be inclined to just let Trump do it, knowing how horribly wrong it’s bound to go. This would be a PR disaster of epic proportions starting, one imagines, with visceral images of ICE agents herding arrested immigrants onto buses using, I don’t know, low-voltage cattle prods, or something. The media will have an absolute field day with that.
The only reason nobody seems to be able to say, definitively, whether this is illegal or not is because it isn’t entirely clear what exactly it is the administration has in mind. It’s almost unfathomable that they would risk literally throwing people on buses, driving to target districts, opening the doors and saying “this is your stop, good luck.”
So, surely, there must be more to this “plan” than that.
Or maybe not, because as The New York Times goes on to write in the linked post above, officials from multiple agencies had become increasingly exasperated and incredulous with Miller’s far-fetched demands prior to his recent “decapitation” of DHS leadership. To wit:
The purge, [officials said], was the culmination of months of clashes with Mr. Miller and others around the president who have repeatedly demanded implementation of policies that were legally questionable, impractical, unethical or unreasonable. And when officials explained why, it further infuriated a White House set on making quick, sweeping changes to decades-old laws.
On Monday, Jerry Nadler, Elijah Cummings and Bennie Thompson sent a letter to Mick Mulvaney and McAleenan essentially demanding to know what’s going on at 1600 Penn. when it comes to immigration policy. The letter calls for Mulvaney to produce emails and communications between the White House, DHS and ICE related to Miller’s plan “no later than May 3”.
Suffice to say the White House will likely fight the request.
Whatever the case, this is a comically ridiculous idea, which is presumably what multiple officials have tried (in vain) to communicate to Miller over the past six months. In addition to being logistically impossible outside of the “this is your stop” approach sarcastically detailed above, it’s borderline suicidal from a PR perspective.
Plus, how exactly does the administration plan to make sure that the immigrants they drop off in sanctuary cities don’t simply hop on another bus (or ride a bike or hitch a ride, etc.) on their way to somewhere else? How is Trump going to explain things when illegal immigration skyrockets because he failed to account for the fact that when you bus illegal immigrants into random cities and drop them off in the middle of the street, there’s no way to track them after that? These aren’t Great Whites – you can’t “tag” them with homing beacons.
Now that we’ve surely elicited laughter from readers around what is an otherwise somber scenario, we’ll leave you a quote from Nadler (the full letter from Jerry, Cummings and Thompson is embedded below).
What the President is talking about here is spending taxpayer dollars to use immigrant families—mothers, fathers and young children—as pawns for political retribution. This is both morally repugnant and probably illegal.Nadler, Cummings and Thompson letter to DHS & WH