America took another dangerous shift towards authoritarian rule this weekend as Dear Leader Trump publicly declared that undocumented immigrants crossing the border be deprived of due process and immediately deported without trial.
In a pair of tweets sent during his drive to his Virginia golf course, Trump described immigrants as invaders and wrote that U.S. immigration laws are “a mockery” and must be changed to take away trial rights from undocumented migrants.
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”
The president continued in a second tweet, “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit — we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”
The latest presidential exhortations came as House Republicans were prepping for a vote on comprehensive immigration legislation, after a more hard-line bill failed last week. Neither bill has Democratic support, and prospects for the second one passing appeared dim, although the White House still supports it.
“I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the president is still 100 percent behind us,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.”
Some Republican lawmakers are preparing a more narrow immigration bill that would address one of the flaws in Trump’s executive order mandating that children and parents not be separated during their detention.
“I think, at minimum, we have to deal with family separation,” McCaul said.
The 1997 “Flores settlement” requires that migrant children be released from detention after 20 days, but the new GOP measure would allow for children and their parents to stay together in detention facilities past 20 days.
Once again, Trump is moving the Overton window sharply to the right by proposing eliminating due process for non-citizens, while the real goal is to hide Republican lawmakers quietly eliminating the Flores settlement provisions that have stood for two decades, preventing indefinite detainment of undocumented.
The Flores settlement requires the federal government to do two things: to place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than keeping them in custody; and to keep immigrant children who are in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible.
Republicans in Congress have proposed legislation that would overrule Flores and allow children to be kept with their parents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody while they are put through criminal prosecution and deportation proceedings — which many migrant families fight by claiming asylum in the US, a process that can stretch out for months or years.
Trump can’t overrule the Flores settlement with the stroke of a pen. But getting rid of the court agreement has been in his administration’s sights for months. While Republicans frame Flores as the obstacle to keeping families together, many of the people outraged over family separation might not be too happy with a world without Flores, either.
Trump has also tweeted multiple times that getting rid of immigration judges altogether is one of his true goals.
In his classic stream-of-consciousness style, President Donald Trump took aim at immigration judges, saying “I don’t want judges, I want border security.”
“I don’t want people coming in,” he said, referring to immigrants. “If a person comes in and puts one foot in our ground, it is essentially ‘welcome to America, welcome to our country,’ and you never get them out.
“Because they take their name, they bring the name down, they file it, they let the person go, they say ‘show back up to court in one year from now,'” he continued. “One year. But here’s the thing, that in itself is ridiculous. Three percent come back.”
According to a 2016 report from the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a collection of nonpartisan reports on federal spending and enforcement actions, in 2015, 86 percent of undocumented immigrants who were released from detention and given a later court date showed up.
Trump also attacked the entire process by which we choose immigration judges, calling the nomination and vetting process “graft.”
“Who are these people?” he said, of immigration judges. “When we vet the single federal judge, it goes through a bid process, everybody that’s ever met her or him, they come, they complain, they don’t complain, they say he’s brilliant, she is brilliant, he’s not smart enough to be a judge, now we are hiring thousands and thousands — what country does this?”
He added that people “line up” to become immigration judges, calling the process “horrible.”
Immigration judges are selected by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Department of Justice.
Trump also asserted that some immigration lawyers are “bad people” for coaching asylum applicants about what to say during their hearings.
Once again, this is all part of a plan to create a system where the government can rapidly detain and deport large numbers of people quickly. It's only a matter of time of course before this mass deportation infrastructure, without due process, is used not just on those crossing the border now, but used on those already here.
Once you establish that those who are declared non-citizens by the government are not subject to due process, the government has the ability to strip citizenship -- and the legal rights that citizenship guarantees -- from anyone it chooses. And once you have established that, that non-citizens have no legal rights, well, you can do pretty much anything to them.
I cannot overstate the dangers here.
History tells us exactly what authoritarian governments do in situations like this.