White House officials pressured immigration authorities to release immigrants in their custody in so-called sanctuary cities as a form of retaliation against President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponents, The Washington Post reported.
Officials have made this proposal to agencies charged with releasing immigrants detained at least twice in the past six months, according to emails to which the newspaper had access.
San Francisco, the electoral district of Representative and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has been one of the target cities, according to Department of Homeland Security officials.
In mid-November, before the arrival of the first caravan of Central American migrants, officials asked agencies if they could arrest them at the border and send them in buses “to small and medium-sized sanctuary cities,” the Washington Post reported.
“Sanctuary cities” are those where authorities do not cooperate with federal immigration agencies. This means that, if an undocumented immigrant is detained for a traffic infraction, for example, local police cannot hold him for an ICE agent to pick him up and this has provoked the anger of Trump, who has threatened to withdraw funds granted by the federation to all cities or states that do not cooperate with immigration.
The White House presented its proposal to the agencies as a way to alleviate the lack of space in immigration detention centers, but also to send a message to opponents of the Democratic Party. According to the media, an ICE official expressed concern about potential legal, budgetary and reputational risks.
ICE’s legal department rejected the proposal. “This was just a suggestion that was put on the table and rejected, which ended any future discussion,” a White House spokesperson told the Washington Post.
In the past, Democratic strongholds like El Paso, Texas, have been chosen by the Border Patrol to free hundreds of immigrants. Frequently, abandoning them at bus stops. In December, civil and church organizations said they were overwhelmed by the wave of immigrants released by ICE they were receiving in their shelters. One shelter in five days received 1,300 freed migrants.
Similar situations have been repeated in recent months in Democratic majorities such as Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona. “The cynicism and cruelty of this administration cannot be overestimated,” said spokeswoman Ashley Etienne for Nancy Pelosi.
The Yucatan Times