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Trump rejects court decision on unconstitutional asylum detention

Although the Trump administration has faced criticism for overcrowded and unsanitary migrant detention facilities, the president seems to be sticking to his hardline stance on immigration. He rejected a federal court ruling that it’s unconstitutional to hold asylum-seekers indefinitely without bail and insists a census citizenship question is moving forward. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We return now to our lead story, the legal battle over President Trump's controversial immigration agenda, as well as an update on the census.

    Our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, is here with the latest.

    So, hello, Yamiche.

    And to refresh everybody, it was back in April the attorney general, William Barr, issued this order, saying that some migrants could not be — get out on bail. They had to more than post bond. They had to be detained indefinitely. But now you have this federal judge in Washington state issuing a ruling that casts what the administration did in doubt.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:


    And what we had was Attorney General William Barr and the president both seeking to keep migrants who came to the country, who came to United States illegally detained indefinitely.

    Now, this is specifically to people — not the people who come to ports of entry. These are people who come in between the ports of entry. They wanted to say no one can get bail. William Barr was going to have this go into effect on July 15.

    The president calls this catch and release. He's railed about this, in rallies and essentially says, we can't just keep people — we can't bring people and then let them go out into communities. The judge is saying that's unconstitutional, that these migrants actually have to have a due process under the Fifth Amendment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And so this ruling, what more can you tell us about the argument that this federal judge made? Because, as you say, the White House is pushing back.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    So the federal judge essentially said that these migrants have rights and that they cannot just be put in detention centers and not be given bail hearings.

    Most of the time, between 15,000 and 40,000 migrants get a bail hearing. About half of them are released on bond if that's the case, and they're able to come back when their case is processing.

    Now, the White — this judge essentially said, we need to have a neutral decision-maker assessing whether or not these immigrants should be detained or whether or not they can be released. The White House is taking a big issue with that. They're saying that an unelected judge is essentially going to war with the rule of law. That's a direct quote.

    They're saying that these judge is for open borders and essentially is doing something that's unconstitutional, though the judge is actually saying their order is unconstitutional.

    Then I want to talk about the context that this is happening in. And I want to show some pictures to some people that came out yesterday. They are from the office of the DHS inspector general, Department of Homeland Security.

    What we saw is overcrowding in these border facilities. And the context that this is happening in is that the president tweeted today, and saying that these conditions are better than the conditions that these migrants would have been living in, in their own countries, and that even if they're getting inadequate medical care, that Border Patrol, they're not nurses or doctors.

    So the president is really doubling down on his hard-line immigration status, even in the face of all these issues.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the administration is going to appeal.

    So just quickly, Yamiche, this situation with the census. Yesterday, you had the federal — the administration basically saying, we're going ahead with the census, these forms are going to be printed. But then, today, you have the administration, the president tweeting, no, we're not.

    And you have a judge in New York taking action.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    There's just complete confusion. The president tweeted and upended everything, which could in some ways be the theme of this administration.

    But what we have is the president saying he wants to go forward with the census question and try to find a way. Last week, the Supreme Court said that the citizenship question couldn't be added to the census, but the government could come up with a different explanation if they wanted to try again.

    The president is essentially saying, we're going to do that. The DOJ official who was representing the government in court today, he said his understanding was that this was going to be an issue that was essentially resolved. And now they have been ordered to push this forward.

    So the drop-dead deadline that is being reported is October 31 for printing the census. So we're going to see a lot of back and forth until then.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And I said a New York judge. I should have said — I made a mistake. It's a Maryland judge.

    But, again, we're watching this closely. It's not clear what's going to happen.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And a lot of cases moving through the courts.

    This transcript is, I think, eye-opening, because what we're seeing is the president really tweeting a lot of things and upending everything.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you very much.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:


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