Donald Trump reportedly considered a plan to target political opponents in sanctuary cities by releasing a mass of detained immigrants there as an act of retaliation — with a specific focus on Democrats who had opposed the president.
The new report from The Washington Post claimed that officials in the Trump administration proposed taking immigrants detained at the border and transporting them to sanctuary cities, which are cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents, usually to protect otherwise law-abiding immigrants from being targeted for deportation. Trump has frequently spoken out against sanctuary cities and leveled threats to retaliate against them by withholding federal funding.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said the White House looked to target some specific parts of sanctuary cities, including Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. These plans intensified in November as the Trump administration ramped up attacks on a migrant caravan approaching the U.S. border with Mexico.
The report noted that the plan was opposed by leaders from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which noted that it was “rife with budgetary and liability concerns” and that “there are PR risks as well.” The White House raised the idea again earlier this year, but a top official from ICE rejected the idea as inappropriate, the report noted.
The report noted that the plan was pushed by Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who is reportedly a driving force in Trump’s immigration policy. Miller was reportedly behind a recent shake-up that saw the departure of several top White House officials, including Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen.
The report drew sharp pushback online, with many of Trump’s critics slamming the proposed idea.
Monster of a story here from @NickMiroff. The (unwritten but I believe known) context: Trump wanted to drop migrants in sanctuary cities because he cynically believed they would commit crimes against Americans and beef up his case for a wall. https://t.co/Tdw72apbQn
— justin glawe (@JustinGlawe) April 12, 2019
“Trump administration officials reportedly suggested releasing detainees as a way to retaliate against San Francisco and other cities that have adopted immigrant-friendly policies.” https://t.co/jrWZRL6sYr
— Amy Siskind ????️???? (@Amy_Siskind) April 12, 2019
Donald Trump has long been criticized for his treatment of immigrants crossing the U.S. border, including for his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that forced children to be taken from their parents and placed in detention centers. Trump had initially claimed that the policy was the result of laws passed by Congress and blamed Democrats, but later reversed course in the face of widespread criticism and publicly rescinded the policy. Thousands of families remain separated and the Trump administration is facing court battles from organizations demanding they do more to reunite the families.
The White House confirmed the plans to dump immigrants into sanctuary cities in a statement to TheWashington Post, but said the suggestion was “floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”