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Immigrants rights advocates respond to releasing immigrant detainees in sanctuary cities

President Donald Trump speaks after signing the first veto of his administration to reject a bipartisan resolution that sought to block his declaration of a national emergency at the border Friday, March 15, 2019 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
April 12, 2019 10:04 pm

HUDSON — Local immigrants rights advocates scoffed at news that White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of sanctuary cities.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

The proposed policy was revealed in email messages and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials to The Washington Post this week.

The White House told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the plan was intended to alleviate a shortage of detention space but also served to send a message to Democrats.

The attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE, with a top official responding that it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that “there are PR risks as well.”

Although the move is meant to be retaliation against President Trump’s political adversaries, immigrant rights’ groups said Friday they welcome the idea.

In March 2017, Hudson passed a Sanctuary City resolution which established Hudson as a “welcoming and inclusive city” and limited the collaboration between the Hudson Police Department and ICE.

“We support immigrants in Hudson,” Majority Leader and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said. “This is a welcoming and inclusive city. We have and we will welcome them with open arms. Mi casa es su casa.”

Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack was skeptical that the policy would actually come to fruition.

“I believe that the administration is using political rhetoric to try to fearmonger,” MacCormack said. “I think it is going to turn out the same way he said he would cut funding for sanctuary cities. That it is not going to happen.”

A White House official and a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security sent nearly identical statements to The Washington Post on Thursday, indicating that the proposal is no longer under consideration.

“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said.

But, on Friday, Trump seemed to renew his proposal in a series of tweets on Twitter.

“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........The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” Trump tweeted.

If the White House goes through with the plan, MacCormack said he would welcome the idea.

“I believe Hudson is a more fitting place than in concentration camps and tent cities on the border,” he said.

The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blasted the plan in The Washington Post.

“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”

It’s unclear how many detainees would be sent and to where.

Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore declined to comment on the issue.

“Hudson adopted the welcoming and inclusive policy a couple of years ago and continues to both support and uphold it,” Mayor Rick Rector said. “From my understanding it has been reported that any idea of transporting persons to ‘sanctuary cities,’ was a suggestion that was floated and rejected. Regardless, our policy would have continued to be in place.”

The Washington Post Wire Service contributed to this report.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.