New US immigration measures expected

A member of Jewish refugee group Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society rallying against Mr Trump's travel ban in New York City on Sunday.
A member of Jewish refugee group Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society rallying against Mr Trump's travel ban in New York City on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Trump considering and pursuing all options after court's freeze on travel ban, says aide

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil measures on immigration, possibly by today, in the name of keeping Americans safe, as a top aide insisted he did not overstep his authority with his controversial travel ban.

With the ban now frozen by a federal appeals court pending further legal review, Mr Trump was "considering and pursuing all options", presidential aide Stephen Miller told Fox News on Sunday.

The White House could either file an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, defend the merits of the order in the lower courts, or issue a new executive order - the last an option floated by Mr Trump himself last Friday.

"There's no such thing as judicial supremacy. What the judges did is take power away that belongs squarely in the hands of the president of the United States," Mr Miller said on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.

The issue was expected to come up at a meeting yesterday between Mr Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said after the ban order that America's northern neighbour welcomes with open arms "those fleeing persecution, terror and war".

Mr Miller insisted on Sunday that the President has the power to keep some people from entering the country. The ban was supposed to allow time for a new system of so-called "extreme vetting" of people seeking entry visas.

The idea of a modified immigration order that would survive scrutiny in the courts does not convince Democrats. "It will be used as a recruitment (tool) for terrorist organisations. It will put Americans at greater risk travelling abroad," said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

The idea of a modified immigration order that would survive scrutiny in the courts does not convince Democrats. "It will be used as a recruitment (tool) for terrorist organisations. It will put Americans at greater risk travelling abroad," said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

While the fate of Mr Trump's restrictions on refugees and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries plays out, a separate executive order prioritising the deportation of undocumented migrants paved the way for the arrest of hundreds of people, many of them Latinos, during the past week.

As thousands of Mexicans protested on Sunday against Mr Trump's vow to make the country pay for his "big, beautiful border wall", the White House confirmed the President's plans to weigh new action to speed up deportations of illegal immigrants.

"As a result of the President's order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place," Mr Miller said of the deportation decree.

Earlier, Mr Trump tweeted: "The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!"

Over the past week, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rounded up undocumented individuals living in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities in what it called "routine" operations.

But Mr Miller indicated on Sunday that the raids were made more robust under Mr Trump's Jan 25 executive order prioritising deportation of undocumented individuals convicted of or "charged with any criminal offence", including misdemeanours.

The large-scale raids began in 2011 under then President Barack Obama.

Many Democrats have called on the government to act in moderation, fearful that people without a criminal record will find themselves swept up. The case of a mother in Phoenix, Arizona, who was expelled to Mexico on Thursday crystallised such worries, even among some Republicans.

"There is a lot of worry here in Arizona by those who... are illegally here but they have not committed aggravated felonies," said Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'New US immigration measures expected'. Print Edition | Subscribe