US President Donald Trump pleaded Friday to eliminate "the entire system" to seek asylum in his country and get rid of the immigration judges who decide on those cases, in addition to withdrawing his nominee to lead the agency migratory ICE in order to select a "tougher" candidate.
"Congress has to act (…) They have to get rid of the whole asylum system, because it does not work, and frankly, we should also get rid of the judges." We can not have a court case every time someone sets foot in our territory, "Trump told reporters at the White House.
The president did not give more details, but this is the second time he talks about the issue this week: on Tuesday, during a meeting with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, he also said that you had to "get rid of the judges" of immigration.
Under US law, undocumented immigrants who enter the country and claim asylum are entitled to a hearing in an immigration court, provided they pass a first interview in which a US official evaluates whether they have a "credible fear" of persecution in their place of origin.
Trump denounced on Tuesday that the process in the immigration courts allows the undocumented to "remain free" pending the trial on his deportation, which can take months or even "years" due to the accumulation of court cases, and then there are very few those who appear before that court.
Trump's statements sparked alarm among refugee advocacy groups, such as Human Rights First, but for now there are no indications that his government's migration strategy will go through a drastic elimination of the asylum system.
The efforts of the Trump government have focused, instead, on reducing the margin of maneuver of immigrants to apply for asylum and trying to wait in Mexico, and not in the US, to get their hearing before the immigration court .
Trump also surprised Friday by confirming that he has withdrawn the nomination of Ron Vitiello to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), the main deportation device for undocumented immigrants in the United States.
"We are going to go in a slightly different direction, Ron is a good man, but we are going to go in a tougher direction," the president told reporters.
The announcement surprised many officials of the Department of National Security, on which ICE depends, and members of Congress.
The mission of ICE has been criticized by many Democrats, and the agency has not had any director confirmed by Congress since Trump came to power in 2017: his first acting chief, Thomas Homan, was nominated but never got ratified, and the president nominated Vitiello to replace him last August.