Trump’s big blitz on immigrants
Mexican wall to be approved
PRESIDENT Donald Trump was yesterday scheduled to sign executive orders enabling construction of his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border, banning entry to the country from seven major Muslim-majority countries, and targeting cities where local leaders refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
The actions, part of a focus on immigration, are among an array of sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system under consideration by the new president. The moves represent Trump’s first effort to deliver on perhaps the signature issue that drove his presidential campaign: his belief that illegal immigration is out of control and threatening the country’s safety and security.
Trump’s immigration blitz this week is widely seen inside the White House as a victory for the self-described populist wing of his inner circle – which includes chief strategist Stephen Bannon, attorney-general nominee Jeff Sessions and top policy adviser Stephen Miller.
But discussions were ongoing yesterday about just how far to go on some policies, in particular the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known as Daca. The 2012 initiative has given temporary protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of people who arrived in the US as children. Trump vowed during the campaign to reverse it.
Officials are considering, but have not yet decided, whether to indefinitely shut down the programme that allows refugees from war-torn Syria into the US. Trump may also put the entire refugee programme for all countries on hold for four months, according to an administration official familiar with the options under discussion.
This official said that Trump will also potentially bar for 30 days any travel to the US from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – all Muslim-majority countries – until new visa procedures are developed.
Yesterday, Trump was expected to sign the orders relating to the wall and “sanctuary cities”. The effort to crack down on these localities will resonate with the Republican base, which has long criticised local officials who refuse to co-operate with federal immigration authorities.
Several people familiar with the discussions emphasised that the week’s actions were intended to start fulfilling Trump’s campaign promises on immigration and bring Republicans behind Trump on the issue, one day before he speaks at today’s congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia.
White House aides said Trump would meet several parents of children who were killed by immigrants who are in the country illegally. These activists, who refer to themselves as “angel moms,” were frequently featured during Trump’s campaign rallies and during the Republican National Convention.
Any immigration measures announced by the president will set up a fierce battle in Trump’s first week between the White House and advocates for immigrants, who reacted with alarm as word spread that immigration was on the table.
Trump’s proposed wall is perhaps his most famous and disputed campaign proposal, and he feels so strongly about it that he told The Washington Post in an interview last year that building the structure “is easy…”
“It’s not even a difficult project if you know what you’re doing.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will visit the US next week to meet Trump. Het has said that Mexico would not pay for Trump’s border wall despite Trump’s insistence that the country would provide funding at a later date.
House Republicans have said they plan to fund the barrier, which some experts have estimated will cost more than $20 billion (R265bn). But experts say the wall would face numerous obstacles, such as environmental and engineering problems.