Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Donald Trump of pushing "xenophobia and racism" on Friday after the president said his administration is building up "removal forces" to kick out immigrants.
It is not an American value to talk about rounding up millions of people and throwing them out of the country. That is xenophobia and racism. https://t.co/o7sE2szJkG
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 17, 2019
Writer and activist Shaun King, on Twitter, said Trump's Friday morning tweet backs up reporting that the president plans on invoking an arcane law to use military force to drive out undocumented immigrants.
This disgusting tweet confirms several media reports from earlier this week that Trump and Stephen Miller were working on building up a "removal force."
This was always Trump's campaign promise. He pledged to "round up" millions of immigrants and remove them.
Here it is. https://t.co/1Xa6bTKnBS
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 17, 2019
Right-wing news outlet The Daily Caller first reported Thursday that, among other moves, Trump plans on invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to boot undocumented immigrants from the country.
Last invoked by President George H. W. Bush in response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the act allows for the deployment of federal troops in response to "unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion."
On Friday morning, the administration had an opportunity to refute the reporting, but did not.
"Is the administration considering the Insurrection Act?" asked "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy of deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidle.
"He's going to do everything within his legal authority to protect the American people and the families of this country," Gidley responded.
"That's a yes," Doocy and fellow host Brian Kilmeade said.
The Daily Caller reporting followed Trump's Thursday afternoon speech from the White House Rose Garden in which he sketched out a new immigration plan.
As the Los Angeles Times reported,
The plan, for which the White House did not release any written text or even an outline, focuses on border infrastructure—additional barriers, checkpoints and other enforcement tools. It also would shift the legal immigration system away from the preference for people who have family in the United States to one based on what the administration defines as "merit"—specific job skills, advanced degrees or the money to start a new company. [...]
Any potential immigrant would also need to pass English proficiency and civics tests and prove he or she will be "financially self-sufficient," to gain admittance, with preference being given to young people, who the president said would contribute more to the country's social safety net.
Democratic leadership called the plan "dead-on-arrival."
"The White House has repackaged the worst of its past failed immigration plans: greenlighting the Administration’s barbaric family detention policies, reviving the president's ineffective and wasteful wall, completely abandoning our patriotic and determined Dreamers, and gutting our asylum and refugee protections, which the evangelical community has called the 'crown jewel of American humanitarianism,'" said Speaker Pelosi in a statement.
"To say that this plan's application criteria are 'merit-based,'" she added, "is the height of condescension."
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) rebuked the proposal as well, saying that it "would make our already brutal immigration system even more inhumane."
Just as we learn that a Guatemalan 2-year-old died in U.S. custody, Donald Trump unveils a plan that would make our already brutal immigration system even more inhumane. I will fight this proposal, and any plan that doesn’t treat immigrants with fairness, mercy, and dignity.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 16, 2019
The proposal met similar outrage from immigration activist Maru Mora Villalpando, who told Democracy Now! Friday that it's "another white supremacist take on immigration" and "another step in [the] war on immigrants."