Donald trump on Monday again made an appeal to deprive illegal immigrants of their right to due process, arguing that people trying to cross the border should not be allowed to court or appear before a judge.
Trump’s sustained attacks on the American judicial system come amid extraordinary condemnation of his administration’s zero-tolerance enforcement policy at the southern border, which led to more than 2,300 children being separated from their families in recent months. Trump last week was pressured into halting his administration’s practice of separating families, in an abrupt reversal that overruled the views of his hardline advisers.
“Hiring many thousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be disfunctional [sic]. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally,” Trump said via Twitter on Monday. “Children brought back to their country……”
He continued in a second tweet: “If this is done, illegal immigration will be stopped in it’s [sic] tracks – and at very little, by comparison, cost. This is the only real answer – and we must continue to BUILD THE WALL!”
The statement is tantamount to a proposal for the suspension of law. But Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, defended the position and insisted a judge was not always required for due process to be observed.
“Virtually all Americans agree that it makes no sense that an illegal alien sets one foot on American soil and then they would go through a three- to five-year judicial process to be removed from the country,” she told reporters, though she did not providing polling data to back this claim.
“Thousands of illegal aliens are removed every month without seeing an immigration judge as a result of procedures in current law including voluntary removal and expedited removal. Just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you aren’t receiving due process.”
Sanders said that Trump was focused on securing the borders and finding “a very legal and easy immigration process”, adding: “The president would certainly like to see more expedited removal.”
The question of due process compounds an already confusing situation as Republican lawmakers scrambled to build a consensus around immigration legislation, and federal agencies work to reunite migrant families separated under Trump’s policy, with many children now scattered across the US without their parents.
The Department of Homeland Security stated over the weekend that it had reunited 522 children with parents so far. The agency also claimed to have a “well coordinated” process for reuniting families, following chaos and confusion last week.
The Pentagon is preparing to temporarily house immigrants at two military bases.
In Texas on Monday, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, said agents had temporarily stopped referring for criminal prosecution cases involving parents who crossed the US border illegally with their children. He said the zero-tolerance policy remained in effect but that halting prosecutions in these instances was necessary to comply with Trump’s executive order.
The House is preparing to vote this week on a broad Republican immigration bill that is expected to fall short amid Democratic opposition and a lack of consensus among GOP lawmakers on how restrictive US immigration laws should be.
The legislation attempts to resolve twin crises created by Trump: it seeks to provide a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the US as children; and to end the practice of separating families at the border. The bill would also give Trump $25bn funding towards building his border wall and impose new restrictions on legal immigration.
Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said lawmakers continued negotiations on the immigration proposal over the weekend.
But asked what he expected would happen when it came up for a vote this week, Meadows told Fox & Friends: “I would think fail right now.”
On Monday, Sanders echoed Trump’s attempts to shift the blame to his political opponents. Democrats, she said, had made it very clear they did not want to work with the president and did not want to fix the immigration system. “They’d rather have open borders and rampant crime,” she alleged.