The Slatest

White House Wanted ICE to Arrest Undocumented Immigrants and Then Release Them in Sanctuary Cities

Immigrant families and activists rally outside the Tennessee State Capitol against the passage of a law that will prohibit sanctuary cities in the state.
Immigrant families and activists rally outside the Tennessee State Capitol against the passage of a law that will prohibit sanctuary cities in the state.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Here’s a Trump White House immigration gambit that likely will shock, but not surprise you. The Trump administration, the Washington Post reported Thursday, came up with a cartoonishly villainous plan and then pressured immigration officials to carry out the Trumpian scheme of arresting undocumented migrants coming into the country and then busing them and releasing them on the streets of so-called sanctuary cities. The aim? Retaliation, of course, against political enemies and for not treating undocumented families like criminals.

The Trump folks tried to make this plan a reality on multiple occasions over the last six months, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Post.

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 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.”

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller discussed the proposal with ICE, according to two DHS officials. Matthew Albence, who is ICE’s acting deputy director, immediately questioned the proposal in November and later circulated the idea within his agency when it resurfaced in February, seeking the legal review that ultimately doomed the proposal.

“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said. It was just a brainstorm!