In remarks related to the current system of asylum in the United States, President Trump pressured Congress to reform the approach while suggesting that the court systems that support asylum decisions should be eliminated, as Common Dreams reports.
“Congress has to act,” Trump said to reporters outside of the White House in an exchange about the asylum claim process and the immigration system in general. “They have to get rid of catch-and-release, chain migration, visa lottery, they have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn’t work.”
The remarks were made as the president prepared to depart for a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“And frankly,” the president continued, “we should get rid of judges. You can’t have a court case every time sets their foot on our ground.”
Trump has generally advocated for a much more expedient approach to dealing with immigrants crossing the southern border, particularly when it comes to those claiming asylum. The remarks, while appearing off-the-cuff, matched almost exactly previous statements made at the annual fundraiser for the Republican National Congressional Committee, where Trump spoke and expressed nearly identical sentiments.
In those remarks, the president stated that immigration lawyers were coaching would-be asylum seekers in how to navigate the system, including by providing words that they should use to effectively make the case that they were fleeing in fear of their lives.
While Trump’s statements regarding judges seems to be in reference specifically to those associated with the immigration court system, critics have been eager to characterize Trump’s position as authoritarian and in conflict with the basic fabric of the American system of government.
Political activist Max Berger was quick to attack Trump’s position.
“If we had a functional legislature, Trump would be removed from office for being a fascist who opposes democracy. Fascism can only thrive when democracy is failing. A president who says ‘we should get rid of judges’ deserves to be impeached,” Berger tweeted.
Trump’s recent attacks on the status quo at the southern border have not been limited to the asylum process. He also briefly floated the possibility of shutting down the border between the United States and Mexico entirely, not only for asylum seekers or immigrants in general, but for trade, travel, and any other commerce across the border.
The idea was quickly backtracked as advisors and pundits pointed out the economic fallout that would follow such a move, with Trump vaguely conceding to reconsider a shutdown a year from now if drug trade across the border is not substantially reduced between now and then.