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Ex-Obama ICE Chief: Trump Proposal to Eliminate Immigration Judges ‘Single Dumbest Idea I’ve Ever Heard’

JOSHUA CAPLAN

Appearing Monday on CNN’s New Day, John Sandweg, a former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the Obama administration, referred to President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate immigration judges as “the single dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

A partial transcript is as follows: 

JOHN BERMAN: I do want to ask you about one of the solutions that the president has proposed over the last few days and that’s to just get rid of immigration judges. […] Get rid of judges because most Democrats and Republicans I hear from would like to add judges.

JOHN SANDWEG: John, I hate to say it, that is the single dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in terms of dealing with this current crisis. Look, the reality is our asylum laws guarantees that you set your feet on American soil and you say you’re fearful of persecution in your own country, you get a hearing before an immigration judge to prove that or not prove that before you’re deported. Now, the reality is, that the majority of the people coming across, only about 20 percent of them, are actually getting asylum. The number fluctuates, but very few of them are getting asylum.

The problem we are facing is we don’t have enough immigration judges to process the cases quickly. So when you have these kinds of numbers, let’s say it’s 100,000 as was early predicted in the month, what that means is those people arrive today, dealing with only 300 judges, it’s going to be years before their hearing and the American public is frustrated. I think what the president is trying to do is use this crisis as an opportunity to force Congress to get rid of the asylum laws.

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