San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon on Thursday criticized President Donald Trump's tweet about considering sending "illegal immigrants" into sanctuary cities.
San Francisco is among the sanctuary cities in the U.S., where local authorities do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, denying information or resources that would help ICE round up people living in the country illegally.
“With immigrants being less likely to commit crimes than the U.S. born population, and with sanctuary jurisdictions being safer and more productive than non-sanctuary jurisdictions, the data damns this proposal as a politically motivated stunt that seeks to play politics with peoples’ lives," Gascon said. "The fact that such a proposal is being peddled by the leader of the free world is an all-time low for American discourse, and it’s the clearest sign yet that the president fully intends to chart a path to reelection on the back of racist rhetoric and policies intended to divide us.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed also criticized the president's tweet, calling it “another in a long line of scare tactics and half-baked ideas that are just about chasing headlines and distracting people from real issues."
"In San Francisco we are proud to be a sanctuary city and we’ll continue to stand up for all our residents, Breed added.
But California Republican Committee member Harmeet Dhillon said Democratic leaders should be embracing the proposal:
"I don’t really see why it’s being viewed as something negative, either for the immigrants or the city, since it’s a sanctuary city and we love immigrants here, so I don’t really see the drama," Dhillon said.
Other Bay Area leaders fired back at Trump's tweet, with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf calling it "not American" and "petty politics."
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo tweeted:
"@realDonaldTrump plans to release detained immigrants to @CityofSanJose? We welcome any families willing to endure such extraordinary hardships and to take such tremendous risks to be a part of our great country. #VamosSanJose #WeAreSanJose."
Trump said Friday he is considering sending "Illegal Immigrants" to Democratic strongholds — just hours after White House and Homeland Security officials said the idea had been discussed but quickly rejected.
"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 tweeted. He added, "The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy - so this should make them very happy!"
Trump's tweets came in response to news that the White House had at least twice considered a plan to release detained immigrants into "sanctuary cities." Critics blasted the plan, supposedly rejected, as an effort to use migrants as pawns to go after political opponents.
They include New York City and San Francisco, home city of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who on Friday called the idea "unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful of the challenges that we face as a country, as a people, to address who we are — a nation of immigrants."
The idea of pressing immigration authorities to embrace the plan was discussed in November and then again in February as the Trump administration struggled with a surge of migrants at the border, according to people who spoke on condition of anonymity to outline private conversations. Department of Homeland Security lawyers quickly rejected the proposal, according to the people, and it was dropped.
But not, apparently, by the president, who revived the idea in his tweets.
The plan, which was first reported by the Washington Post, is one of many ideas considered by an increasingly frustrated White House in recent months as President Donald Trump has railed against the growing number of Central American migrant families crossing the southern border. Officials say they are running out of options, and have proposed and recycled numerous ideas that have never come to fruition. Trump in recent weeks has discussed the idea of renewing his administration's controversial family separation policy. And he and aides are weighing forcing asylum-seeking families to choose between being detained together as their cases make their way through the courts or sending their children to government-run shelters.
There were at least two versions of the sanctuary city plan that were considered, according to one of the people familiar with the effort. One would have moved people who had already been detailed and were being held elsewhere to places with Democratic opponents of the president, while the other would have transported migrants apprehended at the border directly to San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and other spots.
Revelation of the idea drew immediate condemnation on Friday from Pelosi and other Democrats.
In a statement Pelosi said: "The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be understated."