The polls have long been closed and the 2016 election is way behind us, but some of that debate friction is still festering between our two former presidential candidates. Or at least enough for them to call each other out. President Donald Trump tweeted on June 24 that he doesn't think immigrants who cross the border should be afforded any sort of judicial process, and not everyone was pleased. For example, Hillary Clinton's response to Donald Trump's comments about due process is super sharp and totally on point.
Clinton made an appearance at Oxford University on June 25, and warned that if Trump decides to take away due process from undocumented immigrants, he may not stop there, according to The Hill. She told the crowd,
The American president tweeted that there should be no judicial process, there should be no due process for anyone that crosses the border. And I can’t help but think if you strip immigrants and asylum-seekers of due process and judicial review: Who is next?
Clinton was responding to Trump's tweet from the day before, in which he proposed that immigrants who cross the border should be sent "back from where they came" immediately and "with no judges or court cases." He wrote in his June 24 tweet,
We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents...
Although it seems that Trump's gearing up to get rid of due process for immigrants, Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants’ Rights Project, told Reuters on June 25 that Trump can't do that. He said,
The administration cannot simply get rid of all process for immigrants. The due process clause absolutely applies. It's not a choice.
Well, I'd sure like to hope he can't do a thing like that. Due process is a Constitutional right to fair treatment through the normal judicial system, including access to the legal rights — like the right to a trial — guaranteed under American law. To boot, the Supreme Court has already ruled that immigrants, whether they entered the country legally or not, have the right to make their case before a judge. The New York Times notes, though, that immigrants who have recently entered the country can still be deported without a lawyer, a hearing, or a right of appeal under a process called "expedited removal."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to explain Trump's tweet during a June 25 press conference, but I think all it did was confuse everyone in the room. Asked if Trump believes that immigrants don't have due process rights, Sanders responded by saying that, "Just because you aren't seeing a judge, doesn't mean you aren't receiving due process." Um, OK.
Sanders also noted that Trump "would certainly like to see more expedited removal —" a system currently in place that allows low-level immigration officers to quickly deport certain undocumented immigrants, or migrants who have committed fraud or misrepresentation. Expedited removal was initially set up in 1996 but Trump signed an executive order in 2017 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to dramatically expand its use, according to the American Immigration Council. Now it looks like that 2017 order wasn't enough, and Trump wants DHS to use it even more.
Having more (and more) expedited removals can very well lead to something like stripping away due process from all immigrants. Clinton was right in that the further he gets, the more slippery the slope gets. Right now it might only be about "certain undocumented immigrants," but in the words of our almost-president, "who is next?"