When it comes to immigration, Donald Trump claimed that the nation would need hundreds of additional immigration judges to expedite the legal processes at the US/Mexico border. But then recently, Trump decided he opposed the idea in front of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and expressed that "they" — without explaining who that means — want more judges for immigration.
He's now publicly questioned why there is a need for immigration judges at all, and he addressed this recently at a rally in South Carolina.
“But they come up, and this was an order, this was – ‘Sir, we need five thousand judges.’ I said, ‘Five thousand?’ So, we put a judge on like on the bench, federal, it takes us weeks to vet, it takes us a long time to get the judges, one – we’re talking about one person. And they want five thousand, I said, ‘Where are you going to find five thousand people to be judges? How many do we have now?’ ‘I don’t know the number.’ They don’t even know the number, even though they’re in charge, OK? Nobody knows the number. We have thousands of judges already.”
On June 26, Trump continued his rhetoric during some remarks on tariffs and immigration.
They want us to choose 5,000 judges. How do you choose 5,000 judges? Can you imagine the corruption, just from a normal standpoint? Just common sense. Can you imagine the corruption? Ho to the barber shop, grab somebody. Make them a judge. Everybody's being made a judge. They want 5,000 judges more. It's crazy. Other countries it's called, 'I'm sorry, you can't come in, you have to leave.' This one, we have judges. If they step on our land we have judges. It's insane. So we're going to have to change our whole immigration policy.
Trump really has no clue what he's talking about when it comes to immigration judges, and nobody has publicly recommended an additional 5,000 judges (including industry experts). The President has constantly pointed to this number, but provides no information or sources to back it up. However, the Department of Justice announced it will begin evaluating judges on how many cases they close and how quickly they hear new ones and was created in part because Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration have been trying to gain power over immigration courts. With over 600,000 cases waiting to be heard, judges are being forced to hear 700 cases per year to receive a "satisfactory" performance rating.
Currently there are around 350 immigration judges serving in 58 courts in the US, but Trump said "nobody knows the number" when asked how many there are. He makes no distinction between immigration judges and federal judges.
The Washington Post explains that “[T]he U.S. judicial branch has nearly 1,300 sitting federal judges. This includes all Article III judges who sit in the district courts, the courts of appeal, the Court of International Trade and the Supreme Court. Immigration judges are not counted toward this total, since they work in the executive branch, inside the Justice Department.”
He then went on a tangent and called for the elimination of due process from deportation cases, which is drawing criticism from both critics and immigration advocates.
Trump has made a crackdown on immigration a centrepiece of his administration, calling for stronger immigration laws since the beginning of his campaign and calling for a wall to be built between the US and Mexico, with the latter footing the bill — even though the Mexican President has said multiple times the country will do no such thing.
This news comes as the US prepares to hold 20,000 migrants on military bases, a Pentagon spokesperson has said, as officials struggle to enforce Trump's order to keep immigrant children with their families. These beds will be used to house "unaccompanied alien children," but other federal agencies have provided different explanations of how the spaces will be used and the Departments of both Defence and Health and Human Services have stated they cannot provide further details.