Two members of Maine’s congressional delegation had mixed responses to President Trump’s assertion Sunday that undocumented immigrants detained at the border should be returned to their home countries without due process through the legal system.

In a pair of tweets posted on the way to play golf, Trump characterized undocumented immigrants as invaders and called U.S. immigration laws “a mockery.”

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”

In a second tweet, Trump wrote: “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 – we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, issued a written statement Sunday afternoon consisting of a single sentence.

“We are a nation of laws,” he said.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, responded following a weekend visit to the Texas border, where she met with detained immigrants and others seeking asylum.

“The idea that the president suggests we just pick them up and send them back is frankly outrageous,” Pingree said in a telephone interview. “Many, many people we talked to are seeking asylum. That the president should even suggest we shouldn’t have judges and let people do what has happened for years in this country does not speak to American values.”

Pingree took issue with the president’s understanding of immigration laws and the circumstances that bring undocumented immigrants to the U.S. border.

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“We apparently have to remind our president we are a country of immigrants for a whole variety of reasons, which is why this country is great,” Pingree said. “It is just shocking. He has so little understanding of the law, of due process, even of who the people are who are crossing the border.”

Pingree said she spoke with a number of people who were escaping violent circumstances and seeking refuge in the United States. They included a woman from Honduras whose husband was murdered by a drug cartel. She was traveling with a small child and a few other family members.

“She was standing on the bridge,” Pingree recalled, “attempting to come through the legal port of entry, being made to wait a ridiculous amount of time for no apparent reason.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

On “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, King said that while many children crossing the border a few years ago were unaccompanied minors, “what’s happening this time is kids are coming with their families, with their parents.”

King said that many of the undocumented immigrants currently being detained should be viewed as refugees fleeing violence in Central America, and that the United States could handle this crisis more cheaply and effectively if it hired more judges to process asylum-seekers.

Trump’s tweets came as House Republicans are preparing to vote this week on comprehensive immigration legislation, after a more hard-line bill failed last week. The Democrats support neither bill. The bill coming up this week is not expected to pass, although Trump said he supports it.


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