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Migrants walk into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico on Oct. 21, 2018. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

'Despicable': Treating Human Beings as Political Pawns, Trump Reportedly Pushed to Drop Asylum Seekers in Democratic Sanctuary Cities

"The White House doesn't view migrants as human beings."

Jake Johnson

In what critics and rights groups condemned as further evidence that the Trump administration views asylum seekers as mere political pawns rather than vulnerable human beings, the White House reportedly considered dropping migrants off in Democratic districts as a supposed "punishment" for their opposition to the president's anti-immigrant agenda.

"The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated," said Ashley Etienne, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose district was reportedly floated as a "target" by the White House. "Using human beings—including little children—as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable."

According to the Washington Post, which first reported on the White House plan late Thursday, "Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months—once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall."

Anna Griffin, news director at Oregon Public Broadcasting, pointed out that an "unmentioned irony" of the Trump administration's cynical ploy is that, if it had been carried out, "folks in Portland and other sanctuary cities would have been very welcoming and probably looked for ways to make their guests feel at home."

President Donald Trump's xenophobic senior adviser Stephen Miller—who has been quickly gaining power in the White House amid an ongoing "purge" of immigration staff—spearheaded discussions of the proposal, the Post reported, citing Department of Homeland Security officials and internal administration emails.

"White House officials first broached the plan in a Nov. 16 email, asking 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,' places where local authorities have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation," according to the Post.

Progressives were appalled by the Trump administration's proposal, which the White House downplayed as little more than a "suggestion" that was not carried out.

As observers pointed out, the reported ploy lays bare once more the Trump administration's xenophobic and false view of migrants as dangerous "invaders," rather than people seeking refuge from violence and persecution in their home countries.

"These are people seeking safety, not political pawns," tweeted the ACLU.


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