Aide Says Courts Grabbed Power From Trump on Immigration Ban

  • Stephen Miller says White House considering all options
  • Immigration decisions lie ‘squarely’ with president: Miller

White House policy adviser Stephen Miller said judges on a San Francisco-based appeals court who ruled against President Donald Trump’s travel ban took power that belongs “squarely in the hands of the president” in a “judicial usurpation.”

“There is no such thing as judicial supremacy,” Miller said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” one of four appearances on Sunday talk shows after the court on Thursday ruled against the Trump administration’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Miller blasted “a judicial usurpation of power,” and on CBS’s “Face the Nation” he derided a judiciary that he said had “become in many cases a supreme branch of government.”

The White House on Friday sent conflicting signals about how it would address the ruling that halted its ban on U.S. entry by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- for 90 days, and also stopped the entry of all refugees for 120 days. Refugees fleeing the years-long Syrian civil war were banned indefinitely.

Yet Miller’s comments suggested the administration isn’t backing down on its position that courts have no business reviewing the president’s actions in the immigration case.

For more on Trump’s travel restrictions, click here.

Miller, whose background is in political science, said the White House is considering all options, including continuing to appeal in the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking an emergency stay at the U.S. Supreme Court, having a trial hearing on the merits at the district court level, and pursuing additional executive actions.

“The president’s powers here are beyond question,” Miller said on Fox. The three judges on the appeals court, appointed by Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively, “made a broad, overreaching statement about the ability to check the executive power.”

Miller’s comments dovetailed with remarks Trump has made. And the president, who’s known to closely monitor the performance of his aides, liked what he saw from the 31-year-old former communications director to former Alabama senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Congratulations Stephen Miller - on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!” Trump tweeted.

So-Called Judge

On ABC’s “This Week,” Miller said that “a District judge in Seattle cannot force the president of the United States to change our laws and our Constitution because of their own personal views.” The comments referred to federal Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, who granted a temporary restraining order against Trump’s order on Feb. 3.

That ruling led to the reopening of U.S. borders to visa holders from the seven countries and spurred the State Department to reverse its cancellation of visas. The president responded by calling Robart a “so-called judge” on Twitter.

Speaking about the case, Bob Ferguson, attorney general for Washington state, said the current executive order “most certainly” is unlawful. Washington and Minnesota have led opposition to Trump’s travel ban.

Four federal judges “have completely and utterly rejected the president’s arguments in this case,” Ferguson said on ABC’s “This Week.” He didn’t rule out attempting to question the president under oath if there’s an appeal.

Refugee Screening

Miller said there were “hundreds of cases of foreign nationals” entering the U.S. and plotting terrorist attacks. Trump said Sunday on Twitter that 72 percent of the refugees admitted since the executive order was halted came from the seven countries. Refugees, who undergo a rigorous, often years-long screening process to enter the U.S., are typically fleeing their homelands claiming persecution or fear of violence.

In addition to border measures, Miller said the administration is focused on “protecting the security of our country through interior enforcement.”

His comment came as U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least six states over the past week in a series of raids, according to the Washington Post. Actions reportedly have been taken in homes, workplaces and public spaces such as shopping-center parking lots in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.

“I have been informed by ICE that the agency’s San Antonio field office has launched a targeted operation in south and central Texas,” Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, said in a statement referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security. “I am asking ICE to clarify whether those individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state.”

Immigration Sweeps

The sweeps were the first large-scale moves under Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. by prioritizing deportation of those who have been convicted of a criminal offense or pose a risk to national security. Those arrested included individuals without criminal records, the Washington Post and other media reported.

Asked on NBC if being in the country illegally, without having committed other crimes, was enough to warrant deportation, Miller said, “an immigration judge makes those decisions. An ICE officer makes those decisions. I and the White House don’t make those decisions.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former Republican presidential candidate, said any concerns about people getting deported who aren’t violent criminals have to do with flaws in the nation’s immigration laws.

“The laws that are in effect right now have to be enforced, and that’s what’s happening right now,” Christie said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The focus of the president’s order is to keep the U.S. safe, and any people getting deported who have violated the law by their status as undocumented immigrants who are not violent criminals are in an “overwhelming minority,” Christie said.

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