Sending migrants to 'sanctuary cities' not president's 'ideal' choice

US President Donald Trump wants to explore a twice-rejected proposal to send migrants to “sanctuary cities”, but that is not the preferred solution to fix the straining immigration system, the White House said yesterday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was one of many options, though she hoped Congress would work with the president on a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

The Trump administration is dealing with an ever-increasing number of Central American migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, an influx that has pushed the immigration system to breaking point.

Laws make it hard to quickly return Central Americans, and many of them spend years in the US waiting for their immigration cases to play out. Others claim asylum and wait just as long – living and working in the US as they wait.

“Sanctuary cities” are mostly left-leaning places such as New York and San Francisco where laws prohibit police and correction officers from working with immigration officials to help arrest and deport people living in the US illegally.

Mr Trump seized on reports last week of the proposal that sought to send migrants already detained to Democratic locations or transport migrants that have just crossed the US-Mexico border to sanctuary cities.

Ms Sanders said the idea would be to spread out the number of migrants so the strain would not be on “one or two border communities”.

“The president likes the idea and Democrats have said they want these individuals into their communities so let’s see if it works and everybody gets a win out of it,” Ms Sanders said. “Again, this is not the ideal situation.”

Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday evening that the US had the “absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities”.

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