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 TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 NielsenDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence 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 PelosiCutting tariffs is better than cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy Pelosi speaks with Israeli president after Trump controversy In debate over internet speech law, pay attention to whose voices are ignored 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.