President Trump told a crowd of supporters on Saturday night that his administration is already transferring detained illegal migrants to sanctuary cities, despite the White House earlier playing down the idea.
Trump made the claim at his rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, an event that he’d promised would be “very positive,” unlike the White House Correspondents’ Dinner—which he skipped for the third year in a row.
In keeping with his well-worn playbook, Trump alternated between disparaging political opponents and highlighting his administration’s accomplishments. The rally featured a bevy of boo-lines.
Trump used his stage to claim victory over the “radical liberal democrats” who “put all their hopes behind their collusion delusion.”
His appearance in Wisconsin came just hours after a gunman entered a California synagogue and gunned down worshippers, killing one person and injuring three more. The alleged gunman published a hate-filled manifesto online before the attack claiming Jewish people are trying to eradicate the white race.
The president condemned the anti-Semitic shooting during his speech before moving on to other items on his agenda. He proudly announced that a recent White House plan to bus detained illegal migrants to sanctuary cities as political retribution was indeed his idea.
“Democrats also support sanctuary cities that release thousands of dangerous criminal aliens onto our streets. In fact, they like the criminal aliens so much that when we are forced to release them into our country... we give them as many as they can handle,” he told the crowd.
“We’re sending many of them to sanctuary cities, thank you very much … They're not too happy about it. I'm proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea.”
The White House has not publicly confirmed that such a policy is currently being implemented.
Trump first began floating the idea earlier this month, in an apparent attempt to one-up Democrats who have opposed his harsh immigration policies in cities that have traditionally limited their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. A White House official quoted by The Washington Post at the time said the plan was just another “suggestion that was floated and rejected.”
Officials from sanctuary cities also backed Trump into a corner on the idea, saying they would welcome those migrants currently being detained.
“The city would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told The Daily Beast in a statement at the time.