In a rare rebuke, the pro-Trump head of the Border Patrol’s union is criticizing the administration’s new policy of forcing Central American asylum-seekers back into Mexico to await the outcome of their application processes.
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told CNN that the policy, which went into effect on Friday, is “incentivizing illegal immigration and punishing legal immigration.”
Judd added that “in essence what we are doing is punishing people who are trying to follow the laws and rewarding people who cross illegally.”
The council supported Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president, and earlier this month, Judd stood with Trump at a press briefing to defend the president’s demand for a border wall. In an appearance on Fox News later, Judd said that “walls and fences actually work.”
In his most recent comments, Judd was quick to point out that he wasn’t criticizing Trump, but rather a policy he believes will add stress to Border Patrol agents’ jobs, according to CNN.
The new policy, Migrant Protection Protocols (previously called Remain in Mexico), was announced on the Department of Homeland Security’s website late Thursday night.
“The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum,” DHS claimed.
It added: “Certain aliens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally or without documentation, including those who claim asylum, will no longer be released into the country, where they often fail to file an asylum application and/or disappear before an immigration judge can determine the merits of any claim. Instead, these aliens will be given a ‘Notice to Appear’ for their immigration court hearing and will be returned to Mexico until their hearing date.”
The policy initially took effect at a legal border crossing point of entry in Tijuana, Mexico. According to CNN, “Mexican officials said Friday afternoon that they’d been informed by the US Embassy that 20 Central American migrants would be returned to Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry ‘in the next few hours.’”
Human rights advocates also criticized the policy, saying it would exacerbate, not alleviate, the humanitarian problems at the border. They also say it is illegal and unconstitutional, and undoubtedly will be tested in the courts.
“Pushing asylum-seekers back into Mexico is absolutely illegal under U.S. immigration law,” Human Rights First’s senior director for refugee protection, Eleanor Acer, told The Daily Beast in December.
Judd also previously criticized Trump’s decision to send U.S. troops to the border last year ahead of midterm elections that saw Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives.