White House considered sending immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at a healthcare roundtable at the White House in Washington

President Donald Trump and White House officials proposed in recent months releasing immigrant detainees into the streets of so-called “sanctuary cities,” places where local governments have decided to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities working to locate and deport undocumented immigrants, according to officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.

The plan, which was first reported by The Washington Post, would have targeted cities — many of them led or represented by Democratic lawmakers– which have policies that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The term sanctuary city has been used in reference to a number of policies in different jurisdictions and does not have one legal definition. There are dozens of so-called sanctuary cities across the United States, including places like San Francisco, New York City, and Denver, where Democratic leaders have been outspoken in opposing the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

When asked about the plan Thursday night, a White House official and a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security emailed the PBS NewsHour nearly identical statements. The White House statement said, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”

In recent years, the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has hit record highs, with nearly 50,000 immigrants detained this year. It is not clear how many people the White House proposed releasing into sanctuary cities, but news of the proposal comes as Trump doubles down on his hardline immigration policies through personnel changes and new policy proposals.

In the past, the Trump administration tried to withhold federal funds from jurisdictions considered sanctuary cities but the effort has largely been blocked by court decisions.

Trump has also repeatedly blasted the idea of sanctuary cities. “I don’t think we like sanctuary cities up here,” Trump said during a rally in Nevada last year. “By the way, a lot of people in California don’t want them, either. They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.”

Ashley Etienne, the communications director for Pelosi, pointedly criticized the plan Thursday. “The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” she 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.”

News of the president’s plan to release detainees comes amid major changes in the administration’s immigration leadership positions. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign from her post. Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Claire Grady also offered the president her resignation this week.

Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, a move Trump announced on Twitter. On Thursday, Ronald Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also announced he would be replaced in the acting role Friday by acting Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence.

White House officials have told the NewsHour that the personnel changes come as the president reviews how to best pursue the immigration policies he prefers.

Meanwhile, Nielsen’s departure also added to the slate of Trump Cabinet officials operating with “acting” as part of their titles. They include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and acting Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen.

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MAXINE WATERS: TRUMP SHOULD ‘TAKE RESPONSIBILITY’ FOR BOMB THREATS, HE’S BEEN ‘DOG-WHISTLING’ TO SUPPORTERS

democrat-maxine-waters-bomb-threat-i-aint-scaredMaxine Waters speaks at Families Belong Together-Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30. She said President Donald Trump should take responsibility for the kinds of “violence we’re seeing.”
EMMA MCINTYRE/GETTY IMAGES FOR FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER LA

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against that notion on Thursday, saying Trump’s rhetoric had nothing to do with the series of explosive devices.

“The president has condemned violence in all forms” since day one, Sanders told reporters. She said she thought “everyone has a role to play.”

At a rally the week before, Trump publicly praised Montana GOP Representative Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter. On the campaign trail, the president encouraged attendees to assault protesters who disrupted his rallies.

While Trump called for the country to “unify” in response to the bomb threats, hours later at a political rally in Wisconsin he said it was the media’s responsibility to “stop the endless hostility.” On Twitter Thursday morning he blamed the media for the “anger we see today in our society.”

Waters has long been a fierce critic of Trump and his administration, even calling for his impeachment at times. After receiving death threats over her calls for protesters to publicly harass administration officials, Waters responded by saying, “If you shoot me, you better shoot straight.”

“We must not be intimidated to the point where we stop advocating and protesting for justice,” Waters said in her Wednesday interview. “As the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared.'”

“I think the president of United States should take responsibility for the kind of violence that we are seeing for the first time in different ways,” Waters said. “I think the president of the United States has been dog-whistling to his constituency, making them believe that their problems are caused by those people over there. And I think they are acting in a way that they think the president wants them to do and the way he wants them to act.”

Waters added that, “in his own way,” the president “really does do a lot to promote violence.”

Critics of the president have argued that some of the rhetoric and conspiracy theories that Trump spreads on Twitter and at political rallies could be perceived by some as a call for violence.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against that notion on Thursday, saying Trump’s rhetoric had nothing to do with the series of explosive devices.

“The president has condemned violence in all forms” since day one, Sanders told reporters. She said she thought “everyone has a role to play.”

At a rally the week before, Trump publicly praised Montana GOP Representative Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter. On the campaign trail, the president encouraged attendees to assault protesters who disrupted his rallies.

While Trump called for the country to “unify” in response to the bomb threats, hours later at a political rally in Wisconsin he said it was the media’s responsibility to “stop the endless hostility.” On Twitter Thursday morning he blamed the media for the “anger we see today in our society.”

Waters has long been a fierce critic of Trump and his administration, even calling for his impeachment at times. After receiving death threats over her calls for protesters to publicly harass administration officials, Waters responded by saying, “If you shoot me, you better shoot straight.”

“We must not be intimidated to the point where we stop advocating and protesting for justice,” Waters said in her Wednesday interview. “As the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared.'”

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Millions of women could lose access to birth control!

SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KSFY) – The Trump Administration rolled back an Obama-era mandate on Friday, that allows women access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).The rollback creates two rules — allowing employers to opt out of insurance coverage for religious or moral objections.”Fifty-five million women benefit from this mandate and they could stand to lose their freebirth control,” said Samantha Spawn, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota. “The pill ranges anywhere from $5 to $55 per month. The most effective form of contraceptive is an IUD (inter-uterine device) and without insurance that can run about a thousand dollars.”The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) says the new rules, “will not affect over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States.” HHS added that the exemptions will likely only have an impact about 200 employers that have filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections.”The President believes freedom to practice one’s faith is a fundamental in this country,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Friday.And so do South Dakota’s lawmakers.Rep. Kristi Noem issued this statement to KSFY:“The Obama administration spent the last eight years chipping away at our religious liberties. I am thrilled to see President Trump uphold our constitutional rights and give family-owned businesses the freedom to live out their moral and religious beliefs.”Spokespersons for Senators Rounds and Thune said both of them also agree with the President’s decision.But advocates disagree.”Religious liberties should never be used as a license to discriminate, which is what is being done,” said Spawn.

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