WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday compared people entering the U.S. from Mexico to invaders and said they should be immediately sent back without appearing before a judge.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in response that such a step would be illegal and violate the Constitution that Trump swore to uphold,
"We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country," the president said on Twitter as he was being driven to his private golf club in Northern Virginia. "When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order."
"Most children come without parents .?.?. Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years!" he continued. "Immigration must be based on merit — we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!"
"What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally."
About a dozen protesters gathered at the entrance to Trump's club Sunday afternoon as he prepared to leave, including a woman holding a sign that said "Trump Should Be Caged" and a man wrapped in a Mylar blanket. Some of the separated children were seen using the blankets on government-distributed video of their holding conditions.
Further up the road, a lone man stood with a sign with Trump's headshot and the words "Thank You."
The latest presidential exhortations came as House Republicans were prepping for a vote on comprehensive immigration legislation, after a more hard-line bill failed last week. Neither bill has Democratic support, and prospects for the second one passing appeared dim, although the White House still supports it.
"I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the president is still 100 percent behind us," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, said on Fox News Sunday.
Some Republican lawmakers are preparing a more narrow immigration bill that would address one of the flaws in Trump's executive order mandating that children and parents not be separated during their detention.
"I think, at minimum, we have to deal with family separation," McCaul said.
The 1997 "Flores settlement" requires that migrant children be released from detention after 20 days, but the new GOP measure would allow for children and their parents to stay together in detention facilities past 20 days.
In the event that the broader immigration bill fails to pass the House this week, the White House is preparing to throw its support behind the narrower Flores fix, which is expected to garner wider support among lawmakers, according to a White House official.
The behind-the-scenes legislative work amounts to a reversal from Trump's position on Friday, when he tweeted that "Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November."
The tweet demoralized Republicans as they headed home for the weekend, but did not end talks about what the House might pass.
The Washington Post contributed to this story.