U.S. President Donald Trump greets the audience during a rally in El Paso, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Trump and prospective Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke took part in dueling rallies in Texas on Monday, with each using the president's proposed border wall as an early proxy for the 2020 election. Photographer: Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg
Donald Trump blamed Democrats for a crush of migrants at the US-Mexico border © Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump said Friday he is considering a proposal to release migrants who enter the US illegally in so-called sanctuary cities.

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Mr Trump said on Twitter. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”

The tweets confirm a report from the Associated Press, which said earlier Friday the White House was weighing the idea amid the administration’s battle with Democrats over immigration policy. The White House initially responded by saying the proposal had been dropped.

Sanctuary cities in the US have laws that limit or bar co-operation with federal immigration authorities. Mr Trump attempted earlier in his presidency to cut off federal funding for cities that do not co-operate with federal immigration orders, but a court ruling blocked that order from taking effect.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker whose district in San Francisco would be among those affected, criticised the proposal as “unworthy of the president of the United States”.

Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat presidential candidate, called Mr Trump an “arsonist” for stoking immigration tensions.

Mr Trump has made immigration a central issue of his presidency, often lashing out at immigrants crossing into the US from south and Central America and promising to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

He has faced stiff opposition from lawmakers over his plans for the wall, resulting in the longest shutdown of US government in history.

Mr Trump subsequently declared a national emergency in a bid to siphon funding for his wall from the military budget, attracting fire from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

In February, the House voted to block Mr Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, and the Senate followed suit, with 12 Republicans breaking ranks to join Democrats in voting against the declaration. Mr Trump vetoed their resolution objecting to his plan, however.

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