Former Obama ICE chief: Trump proposal to end use of immigration judges 'dumbest idea I've ever heard'

The former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE’s repeated calls to end the use of immigration judges, calling it “the single dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

“The reality is our asylum laws guarantee that [if] you set your foot on American soil and you say you’re fearful of persecution in your home country, you get a hearing before an immigration judge to prove that or not prove that before you’re deported,” John Sandweg, who served as acting ICE director during the Obama administration, said in an appearance on CNN.

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Sandweg, a frequent critic of the president, added that only about 20 percent of migrants are granted asylum, saying that an insufficient number of judges to process the cases is a problem.

“Let’s say you have 100,000 [crossings] this month, as was predicted earlier in the month; what that means is those people arrive today dealing with only 300 judges,” Sandweg said. “It’s going to be years before they have their hearing.” 

Trump has repeatedly called for the elimination of the court process for asylum seekers.

“They have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn’t work, and frankly, we should get rid of judges,” Trump said last week. “You can’t have a court case every time somebody steps foot on our ground.”

Sandweg said it is unrealistic to think that asylum laws are going to be eliminated.

“The practical reality is the Democratic Congress is never going to get rid of these asylum laws,” Sandweg said, adding he thinks the solution for the large number of asylum seekers is to add more immigration judges rather than get rid of them.

In late March, a report from the American Bar Association claimed immigration courts are “irredeemably dysfunctional and on the brink of collapse” due to an “unprecedented backlog” of immigration cases, on top of long wait times and policy changes.

Several immigration judges told Buzzfeed News in February that they are considering leaving their positions amid the backlog and White House policies that end their ability to indefinitely suspend certain cases.