White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s call earlier this month to “get rid of judges.”
“The President is saying, let’s stop having one or two judges in this country make immigration law for an entire country, that’s Congress’ job,” Conway said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But it’s not clear at all that’s what Trump meant. And, while federal judges have stopped much of the Trump administration’s attempts to keep migrants and asylum seekers out of the country, immigration judges are members of the executive branch, and have been subject to precedent-setting decisions from the Trump administration itself.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for example, instructed immigration judges last year that domestic violence and gang violence ought not be considered grounds for asylum. (A federal judge halted Sessions’ instruction.) Sessions also instituted a quota system for immigration judges to pressure them to resolve cases more quickly, among other changes meant to fast-track deportation orders.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Attorney General William Barr could attempt to institute massive changes in the immigration court system in an attempt to speed deportations and deny more asylum requests.