Friday in Leesburg, VA concluding the annual three-day issues retreat held by House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reacted to reports that the Trump administration was considering releasing detained immigrants into “sanctuary cities.”
Pelosi said, “I do not know anything about it, but again, it is another notion that is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and the disrespect for the challenges we face as a country and people to address who we are, a nation of immigrants.”
A senior White House official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.” However, President Trump started up the discussion again Friday with a tweet saying otherwise.
“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,” he tweeted.
“The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in a statement Friday. “Using human beings—including little children—as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal.”
She added: “The American people have resoundingly rejected this Administration’s toxic anti-immigrant policies, and Democrats will continue to advance immigration policies that keep us safe and honor our values.”
Officials stressed that the plan never went anywhere.
Fox News reported:
A source familiar with the discussions also told Fox News that Democrats who advocate leniency toward illegal immigrants should work with the administration to find ways to transport those set for release, including in their states and districts.
The proposal was apparently rejected both times it came up by immigration agencies.
A Nov. 16 email from the White House to officials at several agencies reportedly asked whether migrants could be arrested and bused to “small-and mid-sized sanctuary cities” and other Democratic strongholds. Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was considered one of the areas targeted, according to The Post.
The proposal was intended to alleviate crowded detention centers, the White House told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The same report said “the attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE.” An ICE official responded, noting that there were budgetary and liability issues, but also said “there are PR risks as well.”
The source familiar with the discussions argued, however, that the White House did not view this as political retribution.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House told The Post.
In a statement, Deputy ICE Director Matt Albence also pushed back and said he was not pressured by the White House – though indicated such a proposal was put forward.
“As the Acting Deputy I was not pressured by anyone at the White House on this issue. I was asked my opinion and provided it and my advice was heeded. The email exchange is clear and suggesting that it indicates inappropriate pressure is inaccurate,” he said.