Trump: Im­mi­gra­tion re­mains a top pri­or­ity

Ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers could up ousters, but wall’s fate hazy

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Brian Ben­nett

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.

ERIC GAY/AP 2015

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