President Trump is putting lives on the line with an “ugly” and “illegal” executive order drastically curtailing asylum access to migrants fleeing violence and persecution, Democrats charged on Friday.
Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Zoe Lofgren, the ranking Dem on the subcommittee on immigration, ripped Trump over issuing the proclamation, which bars migrants from applying for asylum if they cross the border illegally, a move that runs counter to longstanding U.S. and international laws.
“Our Constitution simply does not allow the President to rewrite the laws on his own,” Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement.
“It is particularly ugly that today’s announcement seeks to impose illegal restrictions on migrants fleeing violence and abuse. Rather than engage in unconstitutional attempts to circumvent the law, the President should work with Congress to achieve the kind of bipartisan reforms needed to fix our immigration system. ”
The sharply-worded missive came on the heels of Trump signing an order that enacts the hard-line asylum policy rolled out by his newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Thursday.
“We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally,” Trump told reporters at the White House after putting his John Hancock on the proclamation, which states migrants may only petition for asylum at legal ports of entry.
Whitaker, echoing the President’s factually dubious talking points, claimed there are “too many loopholes” in U.S. immigration law.
“Our southern border is in crisis,” Whitaker said in a statement. “What’s worse, large numbers of aliens fail to even pursue their claims in court and many fail to appear for their court hearings.”
Despite Whitaker’s claims, most immigrants do appear for their court hearings, according to statistics from the Justice Department.
The Trump administration’s latest attempt to restrict legal immigration is expected to prompt legal challenges.