Trump told border patrol agents to defy law, block migrants: CNN

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE told Customs and Border Patrol agents last week to refuse to allow any migrants through the border in defiance of federal laws and court orders, CNN reported Monday.

On Friday, during a visit to Calexico, Calif., Trump told border patrol agents behind the scenes not to let any migrants in and, if ordered to by a judge, to respond, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room,” two sources told CNN.

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When the agents later asked their commanding officers about the remarks, their superiors said policy was to obey the law and that they would face personal liability if they complied with Trump's orders, according to the network.

The news comes amid the ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, who has frequently found herself the subject of Trump's ire over illegal immigration policy.

During Friday's trip to the border, Trump reportedly told Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoReporter presses Pompeo on whether he met with Giuliani in Warsaw Pompeo: 'I wish the NBA would acknowledge' China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims Dem senator urges Pompeo to fire State official accused of retaliation, harassment MORE to shut down the port of El Paso on March 22, with plans to close other ports later.

Nielsen pushed back on the idea, arguing that closing down the ports would simply shut down legal commerce and travel while migrants entered between the ports. Trump reportedly responded “I don’t care,” according to two people in the room, CNN reports.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE was eventually able to talk Trump out of the plan, leading Trump to pivot to instead refusing entry to asylum seekers. Nielsen allegedly tried in vain to explain to Trump that migrants from Central America are legally allowed to apply for asylum.

Monday's articles echo earlier reports from NBC News that Nielsen’s resignation Sunday night was largely due to Trump pressuring her to resume the separation of parents from their children at the border. Trump argued family separation was the most effective deterrent, while Nielsen reminded him he had already signed an executive order ending the practice, according to NBC.

The family-separation policy led to sharp and bipartisan backlash last year, with even some of Trump's strongest allies decrying it before the president backtracked and ended the practice.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller is reportedly pushing him to remove further senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, including Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Lee Cissna, and the department's general counsel, John Mitnick.

The White House and DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.