SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
President Trump turned up the heat on the immigration debate to scalding this week. Official after official in Department of Homeland Securities (ph) was shown the door. And the president said he is, quote, “giving strong considerations to placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities only,” unquote, and said bluntly it was political retribution directed at Democrats. NPR’s Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: Sanctuary cities – cities where local law enforcements decided that they’ll limit cooperation with federal immigration officials. Is this threatened mass migration into sanctuary cities even legally or technically possible?
ELVING: Hard to imagine it could be, Scott. And, you know, Homeland Security officials had been denying this idea was really under consideration right up until the president said he was still thinking about it. So it was much like the way he threatened to close the border earlier this month, then said he’d wait a year, then said he was still thinking about doing that, too. So look. In all likelihood, the president does know that these are just rhetorical devices. But he sees how they dominate the discussion. And they reassure anyone who might have doubted this president will go on trying to win his border crisis with ever more extreme measures to punish the migrants and their defenders.
SIMON: What do you think the shake-up in leadership at the depart – by the Department of Homeland Security indicates? I mean, there are more acting – there’s more acting – people with the title acting in it than at the, you know, actors studio in New York.
ELVING: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned under pressure. The undersecretary for management resigned. Trump also removed the Secret Service director. Acting is, as you suggest, now the first word in the title for much of the cabinet, too. And that’s far from ideal for those officials or for…