President Donald Trump on Friday said that his administration is “strongly looking at” releasing detained undocumented immigrants into so-called sanctuary cities — contradicting a previous statement from the White House that the policy was no longer being considered.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
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The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump administration officials proposed last November and again in February transporting undocumented immigrants to cities that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, including to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco, to retaliate against the president’s political opponents.
The White House and Department of Homeland Security denied via statements to the Post that the proposal was still under consideration.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House said in the statement.
But Trump revived the idea later Friday, blaming a court settlement known as the Flores agreement that bars the U.S. for detaining migrant children for more than 20 days. Framing his proposal as calling the bluff of leaders in sanctuary cities, he posed the idea as a potential motivating factor to get Democrats to strike a deal on immigration reform.
“We might as well do what they always say they want,” he said at the White House. “We will bring the illegal — I call them the illegals, they came across the border illegally — we will bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it is a state or whatever it might be.”
He continued: “California certainly is always saying, we want more people, and they want more people in their sanctuary cities, we will give them more people. We can give them an unlimited supply. And let’s see if they are so happy. They always say they have open arms. Let’s see if they have open arms.”
Pelosi criticized the proposal, saying it demonizes migrants.
“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in a statement to the Post. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
The new proposal comes during a widespread DHS shakeup by Trump and White House senior aide Stephen Miller to help enact controversial new steps to curb illegal immigration.
Miller reportedly wants to create tent cities along the border to house migrants and has pushed for an updated version of the family separation policy.
Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.