Sanctuary cities complain about ‘onslaught’ of illegal migrants — will they force Biden to do something?

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Mayors and governors are being forced into a game of hot potato with the thousands of illegal immigrants President Biden has invited into the country, tossing them from one jurisdiction to the next to avoid being burned by the consequences of Washington’s policies.

Mayor Adams recently said there’s “no more room at the inn” after learning that Colorado is the latest state that plans to ship illegal aliens to New York. We’ve seen the same kinds of responses from Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and, of course, Martha’s Vineyard, where authorities demanded the army come and remove the handful of border-jumpers Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had sent there.

What the Biden administration has done in refusing to enforce immigration law is to pit these cities and states against each other, creating an “every city for itself” atmosphere.

While we can relish the hypocrisy of sanctuary mayors complaining about an “onslaught” of migrants, Adams was right when he said “no city should have to make a decision if they’re going to provide for their citizens . . . or if they’re going to deal with an onslaught of migrants and asylum seekers.”

But the sanctuary mayors who acknowledge they’re facing a crisis of Washington’s making still can’t bring themselves to call for the real solution: immigration enforcement. Adams and his fellow sanctuary mayors still see this mainly as a budgetary problem. That’s what Adams meant when he said, “This is just unfair for local governments to have to take on this national obligation.”

Mayor Eric Adams has claimed there is “no more room at the inn” when faced with additional migrants from Colorado.
Mayor Eric Adams has claimed there is “no more room at the inn” when faced with additional migrants from Colorado.
Paul Martinka
Migrants waiting to be transported by Customs and Border Protection officers after crossing the border near El Paso, Texas on December 31, 2022.
Migrants waiting to be transported by Customs and Border Protection officers after crossing the border near El Paso, Texas on December 31, 2022.
James Keivom

Likewise, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked the state of Illinois for millions to deal with the illegal immigrants sent to her city — though the state said it’s tapped out.

The Biden administration did get extra money in this year’s budget for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to transport illegal migrants around the country, but that’s of little help to the places they’re headed.

But even if the feds weren’t running trillion-dollar deficits and were able to send New York, Chicago and the rest all the money they want, it could never be enough so long as national border policy remains unchanged. The world contains billions of people poorer than the average Mexican, all of whom would love to benefit from the “shelter . . . food, education for children, health care,” and other services that Adams has complained about having to provide. More spending on more illegal immigrants will just prompt even more illegal immigrants to come, so long as they know they can.

Migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on December 19, 2022.
Migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on December 19, 2022.
Robert Mecea

There is, however, an expenditure of money that wouldn’t be so open-ended. Federal law requires the detention of every illegal border-crosser during the entire course of his or her asylum proceedings. President Barack Obama ignored that and started releasing such people into the United States instead, and Biden has just dialed that policy up to 11, leading to today’s ongoing disaster.

Reversing course and complying with the detention mandate would cost a lot up front, but it would serve as a major deterrent for the “asylum-seekers” gaming our system just to get into the country. Combined with changes to asylum rules to provide for quick removal of the vast majority of those detained illegal aliens, we would very soon bring an end to the unprecedented border crisis.

But the Biden administration isn’t going to do that on its own, being captive to the most extreme anti-borders ideologues. While there are a few clearer heads in the White House who see at least the political peril of continuing open-border policies, they cannot gain the upper hand on their own.

Sanctuary city leaders need to stand up to President Biden and demand the White House take action on the border crisis.
Sanctuary city leaders need to stand up to President Biden and demand the White House take action on the border crisis.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is where the sanctuary mayors could come in. You may say I’m a dreamer, but rather than fobbing off their problems onto someone else, they could come together as one and issue a joint statement on immigration. They could say their sanctuaries are only for people already here and demand their party’s president do everything in his power to deter further border crossings.

Such a statement — salted with the requisite Orange Man Bad rhetoric — could create the political maneuvering room for Democrats in the White House and Congress to do what they need to do to control the border.

The alternative is that the “onslaught” continues, with no end — and no financial bailout — in sight.

Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

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