The Trump administration proposed releasing immigrant detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” -- including San Francisco -- on at least two occasions within the past six months as retribution against the president’s political enemies, The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed Department of Homeland Security officials and emails.
The proposal was first floated in November amid reports of a large migrant caravan from Central America making its way to the southern border. The other time it was considered -- in February-- occurred during a standoff between Trump and Democrats over border wall funding.
It was rejected both times by immigration agencies, the report said. 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.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was considered one of the areas targeted, according to the paper. Pelosi blasted the plan Thursday, calling it “despicable” to use “human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants.”
The proposal was intended to alleviate crowded detention centers, the White House told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An ICE official responded the inquiry was littered with budgetary and liability issues, but said “there are PR risks as well.” Trump has repeatedly blasted “sanctuary cities,” areas where local authorities refuse to cooperate with immigration agencies.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” a White House statement to the paper said.
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.
Fox News' Matt Leach contributed to this report.