How the Trump administration tried to weaponize ICE against Democrats

White House raised the idea of releasing detained immigrants into Democratic opponents' constituents

By Cody Fenwick

Published April 12, 2019 9:04PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Nicholas Kamm)
(Getty/Nicholas Kamm)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

The Washington Post revealed a scheme Thursday by President Donald Trump’s administration to target sanctuary cities and his Democratic opponents’ constituents by weaponizing Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The White House confirmed to the Post that it raised the idea of releasing detained immigrants into areas like San Francisco, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is from, in an attempt to “retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries.”

The Post reported:

White House officials first broached the plan in a Nov. 16 email, asking officials at several agencies whether members of the caravan could be arrested at the border and then bused “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities,” places where local authorities have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.

The White House told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the plan was intended to alleviate a shortage of jail space but also served to send a message to Democrats. The attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE, with a top official responding that it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that “there are PR risks as well.”

After the White House pressed again in February, ICE’s legal department rejected the idea as inappropriate and rebuffed the administration.

The White House told the Post that the idea has been dropped. But Pelosi’s office was outraged.

“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told the Post. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”

Cody Fenwick

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