Former ICE chief: Trump's additional troops to border will do ‘absolutely nothing’

Former ICE chief John Sandweg said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE’s move to deploy up to 15,000 active-duty military personnel to stop a caravan of Central American migrants from entering the country will do “absolutely nothing.”

Sandweg, who served as the acting director of ICE under the Obama administration, cited a lack of immigration judges as the real issue facing U.S. immigration enforcement. 

“What can 15,000 active duty military personnel do to assist with the problem that you’re describing, which is not enough immigration judges to process these asylum claims?” Hill.TV co-host Krystal Ball asked Sandweg on “Rising.”

“Nothing — they can do absolutely nothing on that front, obviously,” Sandweg said.

The former ICE chief said deploying active-duty troops like the National Guard is not very effective, because they’re not allowed to “use force in any way shape or form,” and are instead used as “logistical support” for officials at the border.

“You only deploy the Guard to get extra visibility on the border, to help the border patrol find when people illegally enter, and that’s just really not the problem here at all,” Sandweg said.

Sandweg, who has long advocated for increasing the number of immigration judges at the U.S. border, said that if the Trump administration wants to address the rise in Central American migrants coming to the southern border, the administration should implement a more comprehensive immigration strategy, such as one initially brought forth by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Liberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising MORE (R-Texas).

“If we’re looking for a real solution to this issue — honestly the person who suggested it long ago was Ted Cruz, of all people, who said we need to surge quickly and hire a bunch of immigration judges to process these claims quickly,” Sandweg told Hill.TV.

Sandweg estimated that there are roughly 330 immigration judges at the U.S.–Mexico border and at least 800,000 cases, citing an uptick in the number of Central American migrants that started in 2014.

Ultimately, Sandweg said he believes concerns surrounding the migrant caravan are overblown, adding that today's influx of migrants is different from those in years past. He estimated that half of Central American migrants are trying to cross the border illegally, stating that the rest are seeking asylum.

“They are literally walking up to the nearest border patrol agent and saying we want asylum in the United States.”

Sandweg's comments come one day after Trump said he might deploy up to 15,000 service members to the southern border to stop a caravan of Central American migrants who are slowly making their way north. "Nobody is coming in. We're not allowing people to come in," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn.

The caravan was still 900 miles away from the U.S. border as of Thursday afternoon.

— Tess Bonn