White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley didn’t deny the possibility that President Donald Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to remove immigrants from the United States, Think Progress reports. The remarks were made during an appearance on the Fox News program Fox & Friends.
“There are lots of tools at [Trump’s] disposal,” he said. “We haven’t used them all and we’re looking at ways to protect the American people.”
The sentiment was very well received, at least among those in the room. The live studio audience clapped in response to what is essentially the idea of using the military to remove undocumented immigrants at gunpoint.
“That would be great,” responded Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade. “Last time we used [the Insurrection Act], I believe, was the L.A. riots where the military came in and said we are going to need military presence there. The military is there [at the border] but they can’t do as much as they want.”
Those riots, it can be noted, are not generally seen as a case study in effective handling of such a challenge.
All told, 63 individuals were killed and another 2,383 were injured in the 1992 Los Angeles riots Kilmeade referenced. Police and military forces alike were deployed to stamp out riots and protests that broke out following the acquittal of a group of police officers involved in the graphic beating of Rodney King, a black man whose arrest one year earlier was documented on video.
To create a just immigration system:— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 18, 2019
????We need to make sure that we cut, & not put increases, on spending on detention facilities
????We need to stop using DHS as a slush fund
????We need to abolish ICE & end all inhumane deportation & detention programshttps://t.co/CWEjVnzraS
The discussion came on the heels of a report from The Daily Caller that cited multiple senior officials within the Trump administration who said the president was considering use of the Insurrection Act to address immigration issues.
The act, passed in 1807, allows the president to use military force within United States borders in specific instances of “insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The act can also be evoked in response to disaster scenarios, provided that local authorities are unable to maintain pubic order.
While to-date the act has not been used explicitly to address issues of immigration, its use has been reliably tinged with racial tension.
It was used most recently by President George H. W. Bush in response to the riots mentioned by Kilmeade, and prior to that in 1957, when President Dwight Eisenhower used it to enforce the desegregation of Arkansas’ public schools.
While not specifically referencing the Insurrection Act, Trump seemed to endorse the spirit of the approach.
“All people that are illegally coming into the United States now will be removed from our Country at a later date as we build up our removal forces and as the laws are changed. Please do not make yourselves too comfortable, you will be leaving soon!” the president said in a tweet.