The White House floated an idea with immigration officials in recent months that would have involved arresting illegal immigrants at the southern border and then busing them to sanctuary cities to send a political message to Democrats.
The Washington Post reported Thursday the proposal began in a White House email last November. The idea was raised again in February as another migrant caravan was heading to the United States.
San Francisco, a high-profile sanctuary city and which is represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was among the areas targeted in the proposal.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement ultimately shot down the idea.
The White House said the proposal was designed to both send a political message to opponents of how President Donald Trump is handling immigration and also to free up space in jails near the border.
In a statement to the Post, the White House said, "This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion."
Pelosi's office was furious.
"The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated," spokesperson Ashley Etienne told the Post. "Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable."
Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions that do not enforce federal immigration laws and do not help ICE officials or agents. The Trump administration has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities and states that do not comply with ICE directives.
It was reported this week, meanwhile, White House officials are pushing a plan to have Border Patrol agents question asylum seekers to see if the migrants are truly in need of a safe haven.
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