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The Latest: DHs denies Trump urged ‘anything illegal’

April 13, 2019
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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, before boarding Marine One helicopter, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, before boarding Marine One helicopter, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and immigration (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

The Department of Homeland Security denies that President Donald Trump “indicated, asked, directed or pressured” Kevin McAleenan to do anything illegal.

Last week Trump urged his soon-to-be acting homeland security secretary to seal the southern border and told McAleenan he would pardon him if he were to find himself in trouble for blocking legal asylum-seekers. That’s according to two people familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a private exchange.

It was not clear whether the president was joking, and a Homeland Security spokesman said in a statement: “At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal.”

The reported conversation came during the president’s trip last week to Calexico, California.

—By Jill Colvin

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4:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump last week urged his soon-to-be acting homeland security secretary to close the southern border — and said that he would pardon the official if he were to run afoul of the law.

That’s according to two people familiar with the private conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss what was said.

The conversation with Kevin McAleenan came during the president’s trip last week to Calexico, California, and a day after Trump told reporters that he was delaying his threat to close the border because Mexico appeared to be stepping up its efforts.

It was not clear whether the president was joking or why McAleenan would find himself in personal legal jeopardy.

A DHS spokesman says that, “At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal.”

__By Jill Colvin

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3:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that he is “strongly looking at” the idea of transporting migrants to so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Trump told reporters at the White House Friday that if leaders of those districts and municipalities really want to open their arms to immigrants, “we can give them an unlimited supply.”

He says: “They’re always saying they have open arms. Let’s see if they have open arms.”

White House and Homeland Security officials had said as recently as Friday morning that the “sanctuary cities” idea has been discussed, but quickly dismissed, after DHS lawyers voiced opposition.

Trump nonetheless revived it in a pair of tweets that took DHS officials by surprise.

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12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s “giving strong considerations” to placing “Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only.”

He tweeted that on Friday hours after the White House said the idea was no longer under consideration.

Trump is accusing Democrats of failing to overhaul immigration laws and tweeting that, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy - so this should make them very happy!”

The White House had said hours earlier that it had considered a plan to release detained immigrants into sanctuary cities but the plan had been quickly scuttled by lawyers and dropped.

Sanctuary cities are places where authorities don’t work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up those living in the country illegally.

The plan was panned by critics as an effort to use migrants as pawns to go after political opponents. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (puh-LOH’-see) calls the plan “disrespectful.”

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12:20 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (puh-LOH’-see) says rounding up immigrants and shipping them to sanctuary cities is “disrespectful” to the nation’s challenges.

The California Democrat was asked Friday for her thoughts on reports that the White House had considered sending immigrants to places like New York and Pelosi’s San Francisco that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials. Pelosi says the idea is “just another notion that is unworthy of the president of the United States and disrespectful of the challenges we face.”

Three people familiar with the idea said Friday that the White House considered a plan to release detained immigrants into sanctuary cities, a plan that critics branded as an effort to use migrants as pawns to go after political opponents. The people say Department of Homeland Security lawyers quickly rejected the proposal and it was dropped.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Matt Albence denies the White House pressured immigration officials to implement the idea.

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9:05 a.m.

The White House considered going after political opponents by pushing U.S. immigration authorities to release detained immigrants into “sanctuary cities,” three sources familiar with the idea confirmed Friday.

They told The Associated Press that President Donald Trump considered the proposal amid his ongoing battling Democrats over border wall funding.

A White House official said the idea was floated and rejected. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said when administration officials suggested it to Department of Homeland Security officials and others, they were told it was “no-go.”

The Washington Post said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among the targets.

Sanctuary cities are places where authorities don’t work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up those living in the country illegally.

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