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Of course Trump wants to link COVID-19 relief to his anti-immigrant agenda

To the extent that there is a single underlying theme of President Trump's scattershot administration so far, it's been the president's pathological need to vilify America's immigrant communities, if not the entire concept of immigration itself. With that in mind, it's disappointingly predictable that the president would see the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to push his nativist agenda — and at the expense of public health to boot.

During a White House news conference late Tuesday afternoon, the president dangled possible federal assistance in front of states impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but added that the funds could come with a catch.

"We’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and to give them the money that they lost," Trump began, in response to a reporter's question about further coronavirus relief packages. "That’s unfair to other states."

He continued:

Now, if it's COVID-related I guess we can talk about it, but we'd want certain things also including sanctuary city adjustments, because we have so many people in sanctuary cities, which I don't even think are popular even by radical left folks, because what's happening is people are being protected that shouldn't be protected, and a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities. But that's just — standing up here answering this question — that's one of the things I think about. If we were gonna do something for the states, I think they'd probably want a, uh, something having to do with sanctuary cities, something having to do with other different points that we can discuss a little bit later on.

In other words: If cities don't punish immigrant communities by committing local resources to enforcing federal law, then the president seems willing to let those cities suffer wholesale in the midst of a global health crisis.

In fact, this is simply the administration's latest assault on immigrant communities during the pandemic. Already, the White House has: blocked stimulus funds to Americans married to undocumented immigrants; temporarily suspended huge swaths of legal immigration into the country; and positioned these coronavirus-prompted changes as part of a larger anti-immigration push that would "turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor," according to the administration's top nationalist Stephen Miller.

Trump's threat to condition states' coronavirus relief on his longstanding campaign to punish local communities' refusal to enforce federal immigration policy comes as both he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have suggested the government should let states go bankrupt rather than provide federal COVID-19 support.