Protesters wait for President Donald Trump’s motorcade outside the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / The Associated Press)

By   KATIE ROGERS     The New York Times    Originally published June 24, 2018 at 12:51 pm

President Donald Trump asserted Sunday that immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally should be sent back immediately without due process or an appearance before a judge, an escalation of his attacks on the judicial system.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump tweeted while on the way to his golf course in Virginia. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

It was another twist in an already head-spinning series of developments on immigration after the president reversed a policy last week that had resulted in the separation of more than 2,300 children from their families.

While in Las Vegas on Saturday, Trump told supporters that he thought the immigration system needed fewer judges — putting him in conflict with a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to expand the number of judges in an effort to process cases more quickly. Trump also suggested last week that he opposed adding judges because many of them could be corrupt.

He has criticized immigration judges for weeks, saying they were not effective in stopping the flow of people coming into the country, sometimes using incorrect numbers to make his point.

“We have thousands of judges. Do you think other countries have judges?” Trump said during a round-table discussion in May. “We give them, like, trials. That’s the good news. The bad news is, they never show up for the trial. OK?”

There are actually fewer than 400 judges dedicated to such work, according to the website PolitiFact.

Last week, the president found himself on the defensive over his hard-line immigration stance, signing an executive order Wednesday reversing his family separation policy that instead seeks to detain children with their families. Federal officials are struggling to reunite children with their relatives as lawmakers in Congress grapple over potential legislative fixes. (Late Saturday night, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it had reunited 522 migrant children who had been separated from adults.)

The call to abandon due process Sunday in some ways echoed part of his executive order, which seeks to detain immigrant families indefinitely, a stance that courts have said violates the rights of the children.

But on Sunday, Trump went further, saying no judges at all were needed to process immigration cases.

“Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order,” Trump said, adding, “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit.”