Trump: Immigration remains a top priority
Executive powers could up ousters, but wall’s fate hazy
WASHINGTON — As president, Donald Trump can move swiftly to gut President Barack Obama’s signature immigration policies by ramping up deportations and ending a program that has given temporary work permits to nearly 750,000 i mmigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Nearly a third of the so-called Dreamers — those given protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — live in California and thus are potentially at risk of losing legal status.
Using the same executive authority that Obama claimed to create DACA and other i nitiatives, Trump also can quickly fulfill his promises to severely restrict the number of refugees admitted each year and to effectively bar visitors from countries with large Muslim populations.
Trump said Thursday, after meeting with Obama at the White House and Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, that immigration and border security will be among his top priorities when he takes office in January. “People will be really, really happy,” he said. Asked if he would work with Congress to ban Muslim immigrants, Trump walked away without answering.
Trump’s aides have begun drafting instructions that he can issue on his first day in office for the nation’s 5,000 deportation officers to begin rounding up more people for removals, according to two advisers to the transition team.
“There is vast potential In his first year, Donald Trump easily could boost deportations by more than 75 percent, according to an aide. to increase the level of deportations without adding personnel,” said Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a member of Trump’s immigration policy transition team.
By giving more authority to the 5,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Trump easily could boost deportations by more than 75 percent in his first year in office, Kobach said.
That would meet the record set in 2012, at the end of Obama’s first term, when more than 400,000 were deported. It fell to 235,00 last year after illegal immigration fell, and after agents were ordered to focus first on deporting criminals, repeat immigration violators and recent arrivals.
Under Trump, Kobach said, agents likely will return to raiding workplaces and checking legal status of workers. That practice was stopped when Obama came to office.
Trump may find it far difficult to fulfill other prominent promises. They include building a wall along the entire border with Mexico and deporting millions more people.
Both proposals would require major appropriations from a Republican-led Congress that wants to cut spending. It would require hammering out deals with Democrats who fiercely op- posed Trump’s proposals on the campaign trail. Similarly, the cost of finding, arresting, detaining and ultimately flying or busing millions of people out of the country would be sizable.
Thanks to a recent surge in families from Central America illegally crossing the border, for example, the 40,000 beds in detention centers are full. Additional space would require additional funding.
Kobach argued that construction of a border wall could begin quickly. The Department of Homeland Security already has authority to build physical barriers and structures on the border, he said.
Next year’s budget for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency for the Border Patrol, includes $175 million for “procurement, construction and improvements.”
Even if that money is diverted to the wall, it wouldn’t go very far in a multi-billion dollar project.
“Once the building is beginning on a very large scale, there would almost certainly need to be larger appropriation or a shift in dollars,” Kobach said.
Mexican officials have adamantly rejected Trump’s declaration that Mexico will agree to pay for the wall.