President Donald Trump on Sunday called for the immediate deportation of migrants caught entering the United States illegally, saying “these people” should not be allowed to “invade” and petition for asylum in front of federal immigration judges.
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump tweeted en route to an outing at his Sterling, Virginia, golf course. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”
The president’s calls to revoke due process protections long afforded to immigrants seeking to petition for asylum was condemned by civil rights attorneys who noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Constitution’s due process provisions also apply to non-U.S. citizens.
“What President Trump suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a statement.
Trump has previously questioned the need for an immigration court system, and last week pushed back against calls to appoint more immigration judges to help reduce the backlog in immigration court cases.
In a series of tweets, Trump continued to rail against the nation’s immigration laws, describing them as “a mockery.” His comments came as House Republicans prepare to vote on an immigration reform package and as his administration continues to face backlash over its handling of a since reversed policy that separated migrant children from their parents when detained at the border.
The lead sponsor of a House Republican immigration bill that would mandate detained migrant children be kept with their parents while also offering increased funding for a southern border wall said Sunday the bill is backed “100 percent” by Trump.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” he was assured by White House officials on Saturday that the GOP’s more moderate immigration bill has the full backing of the president ahead of a vote this week.
“They say the president’s still 100 percent behind us,” McCaul said.
McCaul’s bill, regarded as a compromise to a hard-line bill pushed by the conservative House Freedom Caucus, calls for providing Trump with the full $25 billion he seeks for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill also provides a pathway to citizenship for thousands of so-called “Dreamers” who were provided temporary legal status under an Obama-era immigration program that shielded a select group of eligible immigrants who entered the country illegally as minors with their parents.
House members were initially slated to vote on the measure on Thursday, but Republican leaders postponed the vote amid concern that the bill lacked the necessary votes to pass in the GOP-led chamber.
Trump’s former Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said a legislative fix was needed to address the issue of how to handle children arriving with their parents at the border, noting that the president’s executive order ending the separation policy was likely to face legal hurdles.
A 1997 federal court settlement agreement prohibits the federal government from detaining minors in adult immigration detention centers for more than 20 days. A federal court judge in California who is currently weighing the Trump administration’s request to override the time limit to allow for families to be held together previously rejected a similar request by the Obama administration, Bossert said.
“This executive order the president put out to try to fix this problem is going to run headlong into the Ninth Circuit judge that decided in 2015 that even detaining with parents is inhumane,” Bossert said. “She called President Obama’s policy of detaining children and parents together inhumane. There is no way this executive order survives first contact, because her view of President Trump will be harsher.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on CNN that he’s learned from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that it has reunited about 21 percent of children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’ll continue our oversight on that, but the track record in the prior administration wasn’t particularly good either,” Johnson said of the reunification process.
Figures released late Saturday by DHS state 522 children out of more than 2,500 have been reunited since the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was rolled out in mid-April.