A White House spokesman left often the possibility Friday that President Trump would invoke an arcane law that would allow him to deploy the military to remove illegal immigrants, as Trump warned migrants on Twitter that they could be leaving the country soon.
Asked during a television appearance whether Trump is considering using the Insurrection Act, spokesman Hogan Gidley said the president is “going to do everything within his authority to protect the American people” and has “lots of tools at his disposal.”
“We haven’t used them all, and we’re looking at ways to protect the American people,” Gidley said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”
His interview took place amid a series of tweets from Trump, including some that suggested new actions to crack down on illegal immigrants.
“All people that are illegally coming into the United States now will be removed from our Country at a later date as we build up our removal forces and as the laws are changed,” Trump said in one tweet. “Please do not make yourselves too comfortable, you will be leaving soon!”
In another, Trump said “bad ‘hombres’” were being detained and would be “sent home.”
His tweets followed a Rose Garden speech on Thursday about a new immigration plan that opened him to criticism from conservatives for not pressing a harder line.
The new White House proposal seeks to prioritize the admission to the United States of high-skilled workers over those with family members who are U.S. citizens, but it does not change the net level of green cards allocated each year.
The proposal sidestepped some major components of the nation’s immigration system that can be far more complex and controversial to resolve, such as the fate of the estimated 11 million immigrants without legal status and visas for temporary, low-skilled workers — issues that have divided the Republican Party and pit the business community against labor unions.
In a sign of sensitivity to criticisms from immigration hard-liners, The Post reported Thursday that Trump’s advisers are looking at measures behind the scenes such as the Insurrection Act, an arcane law that allows the president to employ the military to combat lawlessness or rebellion, to remove illegal immigrants.
The idea of using the law was first reported by the Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet, after Trump finished his speech Thursday afternoon.
Such a plan would involve deployment of the National Guard and cooperation of governors who might not be inclined to go along with Trump’s order.
Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and David Nakamura contributed to this report.