Donald Trump gives "strong" consideration to sending undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities

The president contradicts a previous statement from the White House that the policy was no longer being considered

Published April 12, 2019 3:17PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, CA, April 5, 2019. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, CA, April 5, 2019. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration is giving" strong" consideration to transporting immigrants detained at the southern border to 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!"

The president's tweets come one day after the Washington Post reported the Trump administration had proposed last November, and again in February, releasing undocumented immigrants to cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, including to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's, D-Calif., district in San Francisco to allegedly retaliate against Democrats who oppose the president's hardline stance on immigration, including his plans to construct a "wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has argued that a border wall would stop what he has called "an urgent national crisis" at "our very dangerous southern border," which he claimed, without offering evidence, has led to a surge of crime, drugs and human trafficking caused by migrants seeking illegal entry. He has repeatedly told vivid, and at times, disturbing anecdotes of criminal activity at the border in attempt to rally support for his immigration policies.

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 statement said in the statement.

Pelosi said Friday she doesn't know anything about the president's plan, which she called "just another notion that 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."

The news comes just days after the president announced the departure of his secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, and said Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection would replace her as acting secretary of the department. DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady also stepped down.

Trump has previously blasted the Democrats for their support of sanctuary cities, arguing that they are havens for criminal activity, and he has vowed a crack down.

The president's top national security advisers also recently discussed increasing the military's involvement in border security, including whether the military could be used to construct and operate tent city detention camps for migrants, NBC News reported Friday.

Federal troops are prohibited from directly interacting with immigrants crossing into the country, according to U.S. law, which the news outlet noted has been a "major limitation for Trump, who wants to engage troops in his mission to get tougher on immigration." Thousands of troops are currently stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border, but they are mainly tasked with reinforcing existing fencing with barbed wire.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was at the recent meeting with Trump and his national security advisers, which took place Tuesday at the White House. He was reportedly open to deploying more U.S. troops to the nation's southwestern border, as long as their orders are within the law.

Trump told reporters during a Wednesday visit to Texas that he is considering increasing the number of U.S. troops deployed the nation's southern border while alluding to the limitations of sending active duty troops there.

"I'm going to have to call up more military. Our military, don't forget, can't act like a military would act, because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy," he said. "They have all these horrible laws that the Democrats won't change, and I think they will pay a very big price in 2020 for all the things."

In a statement to NBC News, Defense Department spokesperson Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said: "As we said last year when we were looking at possible facilities at Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base, DOD could be involved in the possible construction of facilities to house immigrants. There are currently no new requests for assistance."

By Shira Tarlo

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