Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has angered the White House by balking at plans to shelter illegal immigrant children at a facility in his state, Politico reported.
The Democratic governor, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, told the Obama administration that it should not send any undocumented kids to an empty former Army Reserves Center in Westminster, Maryland.
His request came just hours after he had warned the government that deporting unaccompanied children would be sending them home to "certain death."
O'Malley said at the National Governors Association in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday that these undocumented children should be treated with compassion while attacking President Barack Obama’s plans to speed up deportations, appoint more immigration judges, and strengthen border security.
The Washington Post
says that within hours O'Malley, the highest ranking Democrat to criticize Obama on the immigrant surge, had received an exasperated call from Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz to take issue with his comments.
During the call, O'Malley said that the undocumented kids would face an inhospitable welcome at the facility in deeply conservative Carroll County, 35 miles from Baltimore.
O'Malley made his remarks to Munoz the day after the Department of Health and Human Services had informed Carroll County leaders of their plan to turn the disused army reserves center into a detention center.
The Post said that during the weekend graffiti was painted on the military center saying, "No illeagles here. No undocumented Democrats." Maryland State Police are investigating the message as a possible hate crime, the Post reported.
Although the building has since been removed as a potential detention center, the content of the phone conversation was leaked by a Democrat outside Maryland portraying O'Malley as a hypocrite, the Post said.
But O'Malley’s aides have since said that the governor’s phone comments were taken out of context and that he is working with the White House to find an alternative facility.
"Gov. O'Malley has been discussing this issue for weeks with the White House," O'Malley press secretary Nina Smith told Politico. "He has helped identify ways Maryland can assist with this humanitarian crisis, and he has directed the Maryland Department of Human Resources to take the steps necessary to find licensed providers who might be able to care for these children in Maryland."
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