President Donald Trump says he is considering a plan to send detained immigrants in the United States to so-called "sanctuary cities."
He tweeted on Friday that his aim was to try and punish Democrats who have expressed opposition to his stringent immigration proposals.
This comes after The Washington Post Thursday reported that White House officials had attempted to pressure US immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” in a bid to retaliate against the president’s political adversaries.
According to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Post, Trump administration officials had made such proposals at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan got closer to the US southern border, and again in February amid a stalemate with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall on the US-Mexico border.
Trump on Friday not only confirmed the plan, but said it remained under “strong” consideration.
Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy—so this should make them very happy!” he added.
Meanwhile, later on Friday, Democratic US mayors said their cities would welcome illegal immigrants, dismissing Trump's threat.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that Trump “uses people like pawns, adding, “New York City will always be the ultimate city of immigrants – the President’s empty threats won’t change that.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney also said in a statement that his city “would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades.”
On Thursday, Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress accused Trump of aggravating a crisis situation at the US-Mexico border, saying he had not used funds available to help deal with a surge of migrants and exacerbated the problem with his attempts to crack down.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bipartisan legislation that Trump signed to end a government shutdown in February included money for judges and humanitarian aid “to bring order to the border,” but Trump has not used the funds.