Who Threw Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Under the Bus for Defending Immigrant Kids?

A Democratic source said O'Malley "privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland.'"

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Maryland governor and 2016 contender Martin O'Malley is being labelled a hypocrite after saying undocumented children should be allowed to stay in the United States, just not in his state. Or, put another way, after O'Malley criticized the White House's expedited deportation policy, a "Democratic source" leaked a damning quote.

Last week O'Malley, who is on the long list of possible 2016 contenders, made headlines and upset the White House when he came out against the administration's efforts to expedite deportations. During a Friday press conference with the National Governor's Association, O'Malley said, "We are not a country that should send children away and send them back to certain death,” according to Politico. The White House didn't like that, and domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz had a tense discussion with him late Friday. Then "Democratic sources" threw him under the bus.

As CNN reported Tuesday, a Democratic source said O'Malley "privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland.'" There's a slight nuance that's lost: specifically, he said he doesn't want buses of migrant children sent to a former army base tagged up with "No Illeagles (sic) Here No Undocumented Democrats" graffiti by (illiterate) vandals. The empty Army Reserve building the administration is located in the conservative town of Westminster, and the children might be "harassed or worse," he said, according to Politico.

O'Malley was swiftly labelled a hypocrite, but he has a point: Westminster didn't want the kids. As The Washington Post reported, "county leaders learned of the possibility on Thursday evening, and the reaction in this heavily Republican town northwest of Baltimore was swift and negative." Over the weekend the "No Illeagles" graffiti appeared, and Republican Rep. Andy Harris threatened to attempt to block funding for the Department of Health and Human Services if the building became a site. On Monday the Department of Health said it wasn't a viable option. O'Malley's press secretary also heavily emphasized that the governor is open to kids being house in other parts of the state, according to CNN.

The sense is that the White House knifed him. "White House appears to have leaked an O'Malley phone call as retribution for him speaking on on the border kids," The Huffington Post's Sam Stein wrote. Zack Wolf from CNN's Inside Politics tweeted, "We're #insidepolitics wondering who's the 'Democratic source' who politically knifed Martin O'Malley on border kids... alleging hypocrisy..."

But even if you believe that the White House leaked a quote out of context to punish and discredit O'Malley's immigration argument, the fact remains that he thinks part of his state is too unwelcoming to shelter undocumented children. As Zeke Miller at Time put it, "What does it say about a governor who says some of the people in his state are too intolerant to house a detention facility for kids?" If you're an even remotely ambitious politician, you probably don't want your constituents to feel like you think they're prejudiced ... even if it's the truth.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.