Trump officials proposed moving migrants to 'sanctuary cities' as retaliation: report

Trump administration officials proposed moving migrants to "sanctuary cities" as retaliation against President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's political enemies, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Members of the administration reportedly proposed transporting detained immigrants to the cities at least twice in the past six months, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and email messages reviewed by the Post.

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The transfer was suggested in November as a migrant caravan was approaching the border and again in February as Trump and congressional Democrats battled over Trump's proposed border wall.

CNN reported Thursday that the president personally urged then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Activists to demonstrate at ICE headquarters after Cameroonian immigrant dies in custody Ex-Citizenship and Immigration Services chief returns to DHS in different role MORE to go through with the plan but that Nielsen resisted the proposal, which eventually died after attorneys at the agency produced a report claiming such a practice would be illegal.

The production of the legal analysis reportedly infuriated supporters of the idea, including White House adviser Stephen Miller, who was involved in its creation.

"These are human beings, not game pieces," a DHS official who confirmed the policy discussions took place told CNN.

The district for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says Trump sanctions package on Turkey 'falls very short' Graham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Calif.), who publicly blocked Trump's demands, was targeted by the White House as an area in which migrants would be released.

The plan was reportedly first proposed in a Nov. 16 email, which asked 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.”

Sanctuary cities are places where local authorities refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies.

The White House reportedly told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that the move could send a message to Democrats.

The requested raised alarms at ICE, and a top official responded that the plan raised budgetary and liability concerns, noting that “there are PR risks as well,” according to the Post.

After the White House requested advice again in February, ICE’s legal department again rejected the idea, calling it inappropriate.

The White House told the Post that the proposal is no longer being considered.

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

A spokesperson for DHS told The Hill the proposal had been rejected.

“This was a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”

John Bowden contributed to this report, which was updated Friday at 8:36 a.m.