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Report: White House considered release of detained immigrants in sanctuary cities

White House advisor Stephen Miller at an immigration roundtable with President Donald Trump and other officials in January.
White House advisor Stephen Miller at an immigration roundtable with President Donald Trump and other officials in January. Photo: by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

White House officials tried to pressure immigration authorities into releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities in retaliation against President Trump’s Democratic rivals and "send a message," according to a Washington Post report late Thursday.

Details: Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller reportedly pitched the proposal two times since November to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The plan was also intended to ease the bed shortage at detention centers and target Democratic strongholds, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco, sources at the Department of Homeland Security told the Washington Post.

  • ICE's legal department rebuffed the proposal, and a top official in the agency pointed out legal concerns, budget issues and "PR risks as well," per the Post, citing both emails and officials within DHS.
  • The proposal was reportedly first brought up on Nov. 16, and again in February amid the government shutdown.

A White House official and a DHS spokesman told the Post in two statements that the proposal is no longer being considered.

  • "This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion," the White House statement said.
  • Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told the Post: "The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated. Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable."