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Sarah Sanders to Press: ‘Are We Making Up Laws? No, We’re Not the Obama Administration’

Sarah Sanders Press Briefing
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Washington, DC

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sparred with reporters on the issue of immigration during a late-announced press briefing Monday afternoon, during which she rebuked one reporter’s repeated push about immigration policies.

Multiple questions had been asked during the briefing about possible immigration process changes when one reporter pressed Sanders four times about any potential changes to the use of immigration judges. 

On a third attempt at the question, “So unless Congress acts, nothing is actually going to change? The administration is not changing anything right now when it comes to judges?” Sanders shot back, “You mean, are we walking around making up laws? No. Because we’re not the Obama administration.”

She continued, “We’re actually trying to enforce the laws that are on the books. We’re actually asking Congress to do their part in the process and pass new legislation that will fix our immigration system.”

The reporter’s original question asked for a more narrow description of “what the President actually intends to do when it comes to this idea of not having judges.” The reporter stated her understanding of the current policy, then asked if there would be changes. “My understanding is that if you do ask for asylum, you do have certain rights. So is there going to be a change in that policy? Or what is this administration planning to do to make it so you don’t have to see a judge (inaudible)?” she said.

“I’ve addressed this a couple of times,” Sanders responded. “There are multiple instances in where you wouldn’t: voluntary removal, certain cases of expedited removal. If somebody comes through a port of entry seeking asylum, those cases and that process will be heard. But at the same time, the President’s ultimate goal is to secure the border and stop illegal immigration.”

The reporter pressed again, asking what was meant by “practically? Like, is the President planning to do anything differently, or you’re just saying he doesn’t like the way things work now?”

Sanders referenced the President’s outline released months ago on what he wants in immigration legislation.

“We’re still waiting on Congress to give us the ability to do that,” she added.

On a fourth attempt at her query, the reporter asked if anything would change “on the ground.” The reporter stated that “the President is complaining about judges and saying that we shouldn’t have all these judges, and people who come over should just be put out, but nothing is actually going to change? He’s just saying — he’s just complaining about the process as it stands now?”

Sanders said the administration is working on what they are able to change administratively now, but that “Congress is the only one that has the ability to write law, and we hope they’ll do that this week.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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