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Trump pressured Nielsen to release detained immigrants into so-called sanctuary cities

The Trump administration pressured the Department of Homeland Security to release immigrants detained at the southern border into so-called sanctuary cities in part to retaliate against Democrats who oppose President Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN on Thursday.

Trump personally pushed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to follow through on the plan, the source said. Nielsen resisted and the DHS legal team eventually produced an analysis that killed the plan, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The proposal is another example of Trump’s willingness to enact hardline immigration policies to deliver on border security, a key issue for his political base. Thursday’s reports come as the President has amplified his rhetoric on illegal immigration in recent weeks, even threatening to close the southern border if Congress and Mexico don’t take action.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller urged senior DHS officials to make the plan a reality, the source said. The plan finally died after Miller and other White House officials pushed it in February, according to the source.

Miller was angered that DHS lawyers refused to produce legal guidance that would make the plan viable, saying the proposal would likely be illegal.

DHS officials believe that the legal standoff is one reason why Miller has pushed for the firing of John Mitnick, the general counsel for DHS, who is still with the department.

A separate DHS official confirmed there was such a proposal. “These are human beings, not game pieces,” the official said.

Asked to comment, a DHS spokesperson said, “This was a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.” Another DHS official briefed on the matter disputed that the proposal reached Nielsen.

Nielsen left DHS this week after she was forced to resign.

“Sanctuary city” is a broad term applied to jurisdictions that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions. Cities, counties and some states have a range of informal policies as well as laws that qualify as “sanctuary” positions.

Most of the policies center on not cooperating with federal law enforcement on immigration policies. Many of the largest cities in the country have forms of such policies.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped Trump over the Thursday night reports.

“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” Ashley Etienne said in a statement. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal. The American people have resoundingly rejected this Administration’s toxic anti-immigrant policies, and Democrats will continue to advance immigration policies that keep us safe and honor our values.”

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  • J.B.

    Well…Those ARE the cities that seem to want to pay for thousands and thousands of uneducated unskilled people who are immediately on entry and for many years to come, that are going to be a gigantic drain on welfare,education and social programs, etc…
    Not to mention that is where the majority of these people fully intend to go anyways..
    I mean really, this is news?
    But yeah…Trump is evil…i get the intended gist of the article all too clearly…as per usual.

    • J.B.


      What is meant in the article titling them these “so called” sanctuary cities?
      These places all but have the red carpet rolled out and are waving welfare checks and voter registration cards at these people and are “literary” telling these people that they will be shielded from federal immigration policy’s..
      They are “so called” because that IS what they are…That is what they SAY they are…
      Good grief..Fake News could put backspin a brick now days…..

  • bob

    Sounds like a good plan. Have to put them somewhere. Sanctuary cities want them. Maybe the new Homeland Security Secretary will try it again.

  • Nancy

    It is exactly what needs to be done!
    Put these criminals where they are wanted, why should they not be released there, it is one of the smartest things proposed so far. You want them here, then they can live with you.

  • Bud

    Retaliation? You would think liberals in sanctuary cities would welcome the tens of thousands of foreigners entering our country ILLEGALLY with open arms. But instead all we see is the blatant hypocrisy of liberals in their vehement reactions across the board.
    I would love to have the attorney general and every Michigan democrat senator and congressmen answer one question – just when did they decide to abandon their American constituents to fight for foreigners.

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