White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed to "Fox News Sunday" that President Trump's prospective plan to send illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities is undergoing a "complete and thorough review," days after Democrats who have fought to protect illegal immigrants from federal authorities characterized the possible move as a dangerous stunt.
Sanders also made clear that Trump has no intention of backing down from his fierce criticism of Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, who last month appeared to downplay the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Trump had responded to reports Friday that his administration proposed releasing immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities by not only confirming the plan, but saying it remains under “strong” consideration. Further, the president tweeted that relocating illegal immigrants to these districts should make the "Radical Left" happy.
"Nobody thinks that this is the ideal solution," Sanders began. "But until we can fix the crisis at the border, we have to look at all options. This is one of them. Whether or not it moves forward — that’s yet to be determined. This was raised at a staff level, initially, and pushed back on. The president wants us to explore it again, and that’s being done, and they’re doing a complete and thorough review. "
Sanders added: "The president has asked them to do everything they can and everything they’re allowed to do under the law to stop the massive crisis we have at our southern border. It’s the same thing he says publicly day in and day out, and it’s the same thing he says behind closed doors to staff – is figure out how we stop this crisis, how we fix this problem, let’s look for every possible option to do so, and that’s what our team has been doing."
Democrats, Sanders asserted, have no plan on immigration other than to "fight the president."
On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!"
"It's a sad day in America when the Mexican government is willing to do more for the United States' illegal immigration problem than Democrats in Congress," Sanders said.
In another shot at Democrats in Congress, Sanders vowed that Trump would "continue to call out" Omar, whom Sanders charged unabashedly "continues to make anti-Semitic comments over and over again." Top Democrats have defended Omar and accused Trump of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Omar, speaking last month at a Council of American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] fundraiser, described the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as an episode in which "some people did something" — prompting Trump to tweet out searing images of the hijacked planes flying headlong into the World Trade Center, along with the words, "WE WILL NEVER FORGET."
"The president's not trying to incite violence against anybody; he’s actually speaking out against it," Sanders said, referring to Democrats' charges that Trump was drawing attention to Omar as an anti-Muslim dog whistle. "The question is, why isn’t the congresswoman, why is she brushing this off dismissively? She continues to make anti-Semitic comments over and over again and Democrats refuse to call her out for it."
Top Democrats have criticized Omar's anti-Semitic remarks, but last month pointedly omitted her name from a resolution that was initially drafted to respond to her comments. The resolution ultimately condemned hatred and bigotry "of all kinds," as part of what Republicans called a concession to the radical left.
"If she continues to do it, the president will continue to call her out – call her out by name," Sanders told host Christ Wallace. "He’s not going to be ashamed, nor should he be. The only shame I see in this is that Democrats and others aren’t standing up and taking the same hard line that the president is."
Separately, Sanders slammed Democrats' requests for Trump's tax returns as "political partisanship," and said Trump was merely joking when he spoke favorably of WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign, when the organization published leaked emails that revealed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had worked to help then-candidate Hillary Clinton defeat Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.
The emails also contained a slew of embarrassing internal campaign communications.
"Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign," Sanders said, referring to Trump saying that he "loved" WikiLeaks. "Certainly, we take this seriously. In fact, our administration is the only one that’s done anything about it. Let’s not forget that the reason Julian Assange is being looked at, is because of the engagement he had with Chelsea Manning. That individual is the person that the Obama administration commuted their sentence. We’re the only ones that have taken this whole process seriously in actually doing something to solve the problem."