Posted on April 29, 2020

Trump Wants to Use Coronavirus Aid as Leverage to Force Blue States to Change Immigration Policies

Katelyn Burns, Vox, April 28, 2020

In an authoritarian twist, President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that he’s looking to condition coronavirus economic relief for blue states on complying with the administration’s immigration policy goals.

In remarks to reporters at a White House event with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump said he’d be willing to give economic aid to Democratically controlled state governments, but he wants them to do something for him first — bend their sanctuary city policies to align with the administration’s desired policy.

Trump said he was only open to helping some states financially cover losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think there’s a big difference with a state that lost money because of Covid and a state that’s been run very badly for 25 years,” he said.

He then mentioned sates with sanctuary city policies.

“We’d have to talk about things like sanctuary cities, as an example. I think sanctuary cities is something that has to be brought up where people who are criminals are protected, they are protected from prosecution,” he told reporters, despite sanctuary city policies having nothing to do with the pandemic. “I think that has to be done. I think it’s one of the problems that the states have. I don’t even think they know they have a problem, but they have a big problem with the sanctuary situation.”

Later in the day, Trump reiterated his sanctuary city comments while taking questions from reporters at an East Room event to promote the success of the Payroll Protection Program. “If it’s Covid-related, I guess we can talk about [aid], but we’d want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments,” he said.


On immigration policy, the administration announced on April 23 that it would suspend immigration to the US, though it exempted many farmworkers from the rule.

It should come as no surprise then that Trump would try to leverage coronavirus relief toward pushing states to dump sanctuary city rules. The Trump administration has long battled against the policy, which it claims shelters undocumented immigrants from prosecution by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and creates more criminal activity.