White House wanted to release immigrants into sanctuary cities: report | News Coverage from USA

White House wanted to release immigrants into sanctuary cities: report

WASHINGTON – The White House tried to pressure immigration authorities into releasing captured immigrants into sanctuary cities, particularly targeting liberal strongholds, in hopes of hurting Democrats, according to a report from The Washington Post. 

The report noted that the White House has attempted to pitch the idea to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at least twice since November. The White House suggested both transporting migrants who were captured at the border and those currently being held in facilities onto the streets of sanctuary cities, areas where local authorities don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. 

Among the areas targeted: Democratic strongholds, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. 

The Post reported that the proposal sought to ease the bed shortage at immigration detention centers while also retaliating against sanctuary cities and “send a message to Democrats.” 

The White House did not immediately respond to inquires about the proposal. In a statement to the Post, the White House said, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.” 

More: A multimillion-dollar question: What’s a ‘sanctuary city?’

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More: Another top DHS official is leaving, paving the way for President Trump’s pick to run the agency

Indeed, ICE’s legal department pushed back against the White House proposal, pointing out the legal concerns, budget issues and “PR risks as well,” according to the Washington Post, which cited both emails and officials within the Department of Homeland Security.  

The first time the White House brought up the idea was in November, around the time of the midterm elections, as a migrant caravan was approaching the southern U.S. border, the Post reported. 

President Donald Trump repeatedly brought up the caravan and the southern border as a crucial issue in the lead up to the midterm races, even deploying 6,000 troops to the border in the days before voters cast their ballots. 

The White House again brought up the proposal in February amid the government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history after Trump and congressional Democrats hit an impasse over funding for a wall along the southern border. 

Sanctuary cities have long drawn Trump’s ire. Just days after taking office, Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities, calling undocumented immigration a “clear and present danger” to national security. The order was immediately challenged in court and so far, judges have found the president’s order unconstitutional, though the Trump administration continues to appeal.

Immigration has been the focal point of Trump’s presidency with the White House continuing to pose hardline stances on the issue, including a policy that led to the separation of children from their families.

And that hardline approach might be intensifying. Last week, Trump said he was pulling his nomination for a new director of ICE so they could go in a “different direction” with someone “tougher.”

The president’s comments came amid a massive shakeup within DHS that led to a handful of the department’s top officials leaving, including Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

 

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