Every now and then, real life events can make you laugh out loud in a way honest script-writers know they never could.
The only thing you really need to appreciate this particular situation is the sequence of events. Although the practical connection between events is slightly indirect, it’s there.
To spot you the important facts: migrants who claim asylum aren’t necessarily held in detention if they get into the United States. Some are simply given a date for reappearance and adjudication, and released into the streets of American cities.
Asylum seekers may thus be – but aren’t necessarily – among the people who could be bused to particular cities for release.
But: if they are overwhelming the asylum-processing infrastructure, as they are at the moment, then when a judge says they can’t be required to wait in Mexico for their asylum processing, they’re certain to be a major consideration for release policies.
Here’s the sequence of events. On Monday 8 April, a U.S. district court judge in California ruled against the Trump policy of having asylum claimants wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. This policy was negotiated with Mexico, and Mexico has been cooperating with it.
But the judge ordered that the policy couldn’t continue, and the administration had until Friday, 12 April, to appeal for a stay; otherwise, the admission of thousands of pending asylum claimants into the U.S. would have to begin.
On Thursday, 11 April, the Washington Post reported on a proposal being discussed within the administration to bus detained migrants to sanctuary cities, once they can no longer be held in detention facilities (i.e., after the 20-day limit imposed by the courts has expired).
The concept of migrants in any category being bused to sanctuary cities had thus been floated. (Keep in mind as well that what happens right now is that migrants are being released into cities on or near the border like El Paso, Tucson, and San Diego. It’s not actually unfair to suggest that their release be spread around to other cities.)
An awful ruckus ensued, with leading Democrats and open-borders advocates calling this a “threat,” a form of “political retribution,” Trump “throwing a tantrum,” and so forth.
The reaction of former Obama official Julian Castro, noted by Howard Portnoy, was typical. Castro called it “cruelty” on Trump’s part, seeming to suggest that it’s compassionate and humanitarian to release migrants at bus stops in Imperial Beach, California, but would be “cruel” to bus them to San Francisco. (Obama, if you recall, was flying them around the country in chartered jetliners back in 2014, and then paying the Catholic Church to bus them on to additional destinations, some of which included sanctuary cities. The Washington Post just wan’t making a big deal of that.)
To his credit, pundit Jeff Jacoby did stick up for the frequent sanctuary-city talking point that immigrants are always a net positive, regardless of how they arrive, and that sanctuary-city advocates should welcome this opportunity rather than being upset with Trump.
Trump's #SanctuaryCity threat may be vindictive & petulant, but why not take him up on it?
I were a mayor, I'd be THRILLED to have immigrants directed to my city.
Immigration drives economic growth. More immigrants mean more businesses, more jobs, more vitality, more hope. https://t.co/i7vYM0QukK
— Jeff Jacoby (@Jeff_Jacoby) April 12, 2019
He seemed to be in the minority, however.
On Friday 12 April, at a press event to announce his policy on 5G communications, Trump responded to a question about the release policy by saying that he was indeed considering ferrying released migrants to sanctuary cities.
(Start at the 14:30 mark to watch the question on sanctuary cities.)
He tweeted out a separate affirmation on this point on Friday.
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
So the timing of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on Friday afternoon was exquisite. At 10:54 AM (Pacific), AP reported that the Trump administration showed up in court to request a stay of the original judge’s order, which would require asylum seekers to be admitted to the U.S. starting Friday.
The next update was recorded as follows:
A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked a judge’s order that would have stopped the Trump administration from returning asylum seekers to Mexico.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay Friday.
The appeals court has given the administration until next Wednesday to argue further for a stay that would remain in place until the actual appeal is heard.
We’ll never know if the court would have stayed the original judge’s order without the proposal to bus migrants to sanctuary cities being in play. It’s the 9th Circuit, so you’re invited to form your opinions accordingly.