Trump doubles down on turning away undocumented immigrants with no due process

Trump's latest immigration policy proposal would face constitutional hurdles.

June 25, 2018, 7:06 PM

President Donald Trump doubled down Monday on his likely unconstitutional assertion that rather than hiring more judges to handle immigration cases on the southern border, undocumented immigrants should instead be immediately sent back to their country of origin avoiding any interaction with the U.S. court system.

"People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally. Children brought back to their country," Trump said in a series of morning tweets. "If this is done, illegal immigration will be stopped in it’s (sic) tracks - and at very little, by comparison, cost."

In remarks in the Oval Office Monday, the president reiterated his desire for a "simple system" whereby anyone who comes into the country is immediately sent back out and again expressed his belief that more immigration judges will not fix the problem.

“We want a system where when people come in illegally they have to go out, and nice simple system that works,” Trump said. “What we have is very simple. We want strong borders and we want no crime.”

The president said it's even been proposed to him that the total number of immigration judges be increased to 5,000.

“They came into see me last week they said we'd like to hire 5,000 more judges. 5,000, have you heard of a thing like that?” Trump said. “Where do you find 5,000 people to be judges?”

It was not immediately clear what proposal the president was referring to in his comments. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's proposal called for doubling the number of immigration judges to 750, a number that falls far short of the president's 5,000.

In the U.S. Senate Monday, Republicans spoke almost in unison pushing back on the president's assertion, noting that all people in the United States are afforded justice under the law.

"It is the rule of law, and the president and everybody else in this country should know that," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.

"We’re a nation of laws. We will follow the law," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., added.

But in addition to the message, Rounds also criticized the medium through which it was delivered.

"In a lot of cases, he tweets just like he’s having a coffee shop conversation. I think this is his way of working his way through the issues," he said.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, himself a former associate justice on the Texas Supreme Court and the state's former attorney general, noted that undocumented immigrants claiming asylum are entitled to a hearing, though other immigrants stopped at the border can voluntarily return if they choose.

Like Rounds, he expressed concern over the president's use of Twitter to communicate his preference for what would be a sea change in terms of adhering to the U.S. Constitution.

"I’m not sure exactly what his message was. That’s the difficulty of communicating in 140 characters," he said.

Despite widespread confusion over what it meant, President Trump defended the executive order he signed last week that halted migrant family separations that resulted from his administration’s zero tolerance policy.

“No, no, the executive order was great. It was something that I felt we had to do. We want children staying together,” the president said when asked by a reporter if he regretted signing the order during a spray of an Oval Office meeting with the visiting King of Jordan.

Amid the confusion, there was growing uncertainty over the fate of the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents under the administration's 'no tolerance' policy against undocumented immigrants, Trump has in recent days returned to expressing some of the more hard-line positions and fiery anti-immigration rhetoric that defined the early days of his presidential campaign.

On Sunday, Trump raised alarm over current immigration laws which said allowed immigrants to "invade our Country."

The White House has not said whether the president's tweets amount to anything more than just an expression of his opinion on how undocumented immigrants should be handled at the southern border, considering any implementation of such a policy would almost certainly trigger legal challenges in court.

The ACLU responded by describing the president's position as "both illegal and unconstitutional," citing previous Supreme Court rulings that have held that even non-citizens are entitled to due process and a chance to ask for political asylum in the U.S.

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