President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed a Washington Post report that the White House proposed retaliating against lawmakers in so-called sanctuary cities by releasing detained immigrants in their municipalities — contradicting officials in his administration, who said the plan had been shelved.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told HuffPost Thursday night that the proposal “was a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”
Yet Trump tweeted Friday that “we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only.”
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
Prior to Trump’s tweet, the White House press office was putting out the following statement: “The idea was briefly and informally raised and quickly rejected. No one at ICE was pressured by anyone at any time.”
Shortly afterward, the White House statement became: “Democrats say we must have open borders and that illegal immigrants have a right to be in this country at all costs, so they should be working with the Administration to find the best ways to transport those illegal aliens that are already set for release, into communities in their districts and states.”
White House adviser Stephen Miller, infamous for spearheading much of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, urged DHS officials to implement the plan, CNN reported Thursday.
Trump also reportedly pressured DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned Monday, after months of clashing with Trump on his immigration policies, many of which have faced legal questions.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who represents parts of San Francisco, a sanctuary city, called the plan “another notion … that he is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful to the challenges that we face as a country, as a people to address who we are a nation of immigrants,” she told reporters Friday.
This story has been updated with statements from the White House.
S.V. Dáte contributed reporting.