Donald Trump is set to issue a new edict clamping down on immigrants and refugees in a bid to put back on track a signature policy that drew mass protests and was eventually derailed by the courts.
The exact wording of the order is unclear, but its aim will be to circumvent a Seattle court decision that blocked his previous executive action barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The President told thousands of supporters Saturday night he was moving to "keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country" and to expect a new executive order "over the next couple of days."
"We don't give up. We never give up," he declared to the campaign-style rally at an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Fla. "We will do something next week. I think you'll be impressed." The executive order do-over on immigration tops a list of policies Mr. Trump is trying to push forward over the next few days, as he comes off a weekend of adoring crowds, attacks on the media and strategy meetings. The Trump administration is seeking to regain control after a chaotic first month.
The White House is also considering vastly expanding deportations of illegal immigrants and refugees. Draft memos obtained by McClatchy newspapers authorize border guards to immediately deport any unauthorized immigrant anywhere in the country who has been in the United States less than two years; currently, immediate deportation applies only to those in the country 14 days or less within 100 miles (160 kilometres) of the border.
The memos also target the parents of unaccompanied minors and instruct immigration officers to reject refugees earlier in the process by sending back those they do not believe are likely to get asylum. The memos have not yet been circulated to immigration officers and could be changed along the way.
Mr. Trump has already expanded the number of immigrants targeted by the government for deportation. Last month, he instructed immigration officers to go after immigrants charged with or suspected of a crime, not only those who have been convicted.
"We will have strong borders again," Mr. Trump told the Florida rally. "The gang members – bad, bad people. I said it Day 1. And they're going out, or they're being put in prison. But for the most part, get them the hell out of here. Bring them back to where they came from."
Mr. Trump has appeared rattled by the numerous reports of dysfunction and infighting emerging from the White House during his first month in office, most of them revolving around a power struggle between his chief of staff Reince Priebus and top strategist Stephen Bannon.
The President repeatedly accused the media of inventing the reports of White House problems. In weekend tweets, he declared mainstream media is "the enemy of the American people" and "fake," and that the "White House is running VERY WELL."
While media-bashing was a standard part of Mr. Trump's campaign rhetoric last year, the attacks since becoming President are causing alarm.
"If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press," Senator John McCain told NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. "That's how dictators get started … they get started by suppressing a free press."
Even some of Mr. Trump's allies distanced themselves from the President's tirade.
"I've had some rather contentious times with the press. But no, the press, as far as I'm concerned, are a constituency that we deal with," Defence Secretary James Mattis told reporters in Abu Dhabi Sunday. "And I don't have any issues with the press, myself."
The White House, meanwhile, dispatched Mr. Priebus to insist that everything is just fine behind the scenes. Reports to the contrary are "hollow" and "bogus," he said on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday.
Mr. Trump has not said what exactly will be in the rewritten immigration order, but it is likely to explicitly exempt green-card holders from the ban. This would deal with the primary complaint that the order had stranded some residents overseas and prevented others from travelling.
The original immigration order, issued during his first week in office, led to confusion at airports, as no one was entirely sure which travellers were subject to the ban and which weren't. The order immediately drew protests across the country, and at least five different court challenges led judges to suspend pieces of the order.
Even without these policy headaches, Mr. Trump is having a tough time organizing his government. After the resignation of national security adviser Mike Flynn last week, the President has had trouble finding a replacement. Retired vice-admiral Robert Harward turned down the job.
On Sunday, Mr. Trump was scheduled to interview four potential candidates, including acting adviser retired army lieutenant-general Keith Kellogg, and John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush. The White House said more candidates could be interviewed Monday, and that the eventual NSA pick would have complete authority to hire staff.
Adding to the turmoil at the council, one of Mr. Trump's appointees to the body was fired Friday for criticizing the President. Craig Deare reportedly told an event at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington the previous day that Mr. Bannon and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, were making decisions on security matters without bothering to include the National Security Council in the talks.
With reports from Reuters and Associated Press