President Trump is currently purging many high-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security, reportedly because Trump—and his advisor Stephen Miller—think they’re insufficiently “tough” on immigration. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was ousted over the weekend, the director of the Secret Service is on his way out, and the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is rumored to be on the chopping block as well. This comes after Trump’s nomination to head ICE was abruptly withdrawn, shocking agency employees.
In the wake of the purge, reports have been trickling out about the radical—and illegal—demands Trump has been making of his staff. For one, Trump has been pushing to reinstate and expand his family separation policy to include families that enter at legal ports of entry since January (you know, the policy he denied existed and blamed on Democrats before signing an executive order to end it).
Thank you @POTUS for taking critical action ending family separation at our border. Congress must now act + find a lasting solution that is consistent with our shared values;the same values that so many come here seeking as they endeavor to create a better life for their families
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 20, 2018
Trump is also urging Customs and Border Patrol to illegally deny entry to migrants seeking asylum at ports of entry. According to CNN, during Trump’s recent trip to visit the border in Calexico, “[T]he President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 8, 2019
CNN also reports that after Trump left the agents were told to go ahead and ignore what he said and follow the law, reminding them that they could be found personally liable otherwise.
Trump told federal agents to break the law during a televised event on Friday https://t.co/xQrt3zQm0y
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 8, 2019
When Secretary Nielsen reminded the president that the Department of Homeland Security has to abide by United States law and that his plan for closing the border on March 22nd amounted to political suicide Trump reportedly said “I don’t care.”
"Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad & even dangerous idea..She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade & travel, but migrants will just go between ports.
According to 2 ppl in the room, the President said: 'I don't care.'"
— Sarah Boxer (@Sarah_Boxer) April 8, 2019
“He just wants to separate families,” CNN quotes a senior administration official as saying.
Taken together, these reports paint a picture of a president who feels the duly enacted laws of the United States do not—or should not—constrain his presidency and is feeling more emboldened to jettison anyone who tells him otherwise.
Trump is setting the stage for a constitutional crisis and we’re still 575 days away from the 2020 election. All signs point to things getting worse before they get better.