DALLAS – President Donald Trump ratcheted up his demands on immigration policy, saying that people who “invade” the U.S. illegally should be deported immediately without court hearings trial or other normal judicial processes.
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump said Sunday on Twitter while in a motorcade headed to his golf course in Virginia. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back to where to came from. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.”
Earlier, Trump leaned once again on Democratic lawmakers to “fix” immigration laws and prevent people attempting to “break into” the U.S. “We need strength and security at the Border! Cannot accept all the people trying to break into our Country. Strong Borders, No Crime!”
Sunday’s stepped-up rhetoric came after the administration announced a series of steps to reunite families that had been separated at the border under a now-abandoned policy, and drew a sharp retort from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, said in a statement. “Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally.”
A Department of Homeland Security release late Saturday set out a process for divided family members to locate one another following days of confusion about how the administration would reunite children taken from caregivers under Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach toward border crossings.
As he hits the road to support Republican candidates in November’s mid-term elections, the president has returned to a signature issue that powered his 2016 campaign for the White House.
On Saturday, during an event in Las Vegas, Trump warned that the U.S. risked being “overrun” by “millions and millions” of people pouring into the country. On Sunday, he said U.S. immigration policy was “laughed at all over the world.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, said Sunday that the president’s choice of words was being used to gin up his supporters for the midterms.
“He doesn’t use it as immigration policy, he doesn’t use it as border control policy, he uses it as a issue in order to energize his political base,” Gutierrez said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Trump’s strongest supporters are more favorable than other groups toward the family separation policy and punishment for illegal entrants to the U.S., as well as more suspicious that would-be immigrants might be criminals, and more skeptical that reports from detention centers are accurate, according to a CBS News poll released on Sunday.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said Trump’s frequent rhetoric about Democrats — whom the president blames for inaction in Congress — was a roadblock to getting support from opposition lawmakers to pass legislation.
“Words matter, what the president says matters, and he ought to knock that off,” Flake said on ABC.
In Saturday’s fact-sheet, the DHS said some 522 children so far have been reunited with their families by border patrol authorities. It wasn’t clear how many of those reunions had taken place since Trump announced June 20 that the government would no longer separate families.
Nor was it clear whether any immigrant children who had been transferred to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for longer-term custody had yet rejoined their families.
The border patrol took 2,342 children from their parents from May 5 to June 9, according to the DHS.
HHS had in custody 2,053 immigrant children taken from their parents as of Wednesday, when Trump signed an executive order reversing the family separation policy, according to the statement, jointly issued by the health department and DHS.
The administration has not designated a single point-person to oversee the reunification process, as some members of Congress have suggested. But it has settled on a location for much of the activity: Port Isabel Service Processing Center, 20 miles northeast of Brownsville, Texas.
ICE has posted information in all its facilities to help parents locate and communicate with children in HHS custody by calling a help line that is staffed by live operators for 12 hours a day Monday through Friday, according to the statement. Any details provided to parents in these calls will be sent to HHS, which, along with ICE, will review its data to locate children and verify the parent-child relationship.
When children are transferred into custody, HHS receives information from DHS about how they entered the country and “to the extent possible” information about parents or guardians, according to the statement. There is a central database that HHS and DHS can both access and update if the location of a parent or child changes, the agencies said.
In all, about 17 percent of the 12,000 or so minors held in HHS-funded facilities were separated from their parents or guardians at the border. The rest entered the U.S. unaccompanied by a caregiver.
Sen. James Lankford expressed confidence on Sunday in the efforts to get kids back with their families and the workers from DHS, HHS and other agencies that are handling the cases.
“These are not political appointees. These are career folks that know where every child is to be able to connect them to their parent or relative,” the Oklahoma Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”