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Top Trump aide defends travel ban and hails surge in deportations

A top White House aide has defended Donald Trump's immigration order and welcomed a surge in deportations from the US.

The White House is weighing its options following a legal blow last week to Mr Trump's order suspending the nation's refugee programme and barring citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries from entering the US.

Stephen Miller, Mr Trump's chief policy adviser and one of the architects of the order, said that the president has sweeping executive authority when it comes to barring foreigners he deems pose a risk to the country.

He said Mr Trump will do "whatever we need to do, consistent with the law, to keep this country safe" and criticised judges who have stood in his way.

"This is a judicial usurpation of the power. It is a violation of judges' proper roles in litigating disputes. We will fight it," Mr Miller said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

As for the administration's next steps, Mr Miller said that "all options" remain on the table, including a Supreme Court appeal.

Mr Trump said on a plane journey to Florida on Friday that he was considering signing a "brand new order" as early as Monday to try to bypass the legal challenges.

"As you know, we have multiple options, and we are considering all of them," Mr Miller said.

The comments come amid an outcry from immigration activists over an "enforcement surge" by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that officials say is targeting immigrants who are in the country illegally and have criminal records.

Advocacy groups contend the government has rounded up large numbers of people as part of stepped-up enforcement. The agency calls the effort no different from enforcement actions carried out in the past.

"The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!" Mr Trump tweeted.

Mr Miller said: "We're going to focus on public safety and saving American lives and we will not apologise."

Mr Trump has spent the weekend in Florida at his sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate, holding meetings, making calls, golfing and hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

For most of Saturday, Mr Trump and the Japanese prime minister played golf under the Florida sun to get to know one another and show the world the US-Japan alliance remained strong.

A surprise provocation by the North Koreans provided a more significant example of cooperation.

After North Korea reportedly launched a ballistic missile, the two leaders appeared for hastily prepared statements in a ballroom of Trump's south Florida estate late on Saturday.

Mr Abe said: "North Korea's most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable.

"President Trump and I myself completely share the view that we are going to promote further cooperation between the two nations. And also we are going to further reinforce our alliance," he said.

Mr Trump said: "I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%."

AP

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