The Standard Journal
Trump’s radical approach to immigration: Enforce the law
There’s one fundamental difference between the new White House and the old when it comes to i mmigration: Barack Obama ordered his administration not to enforce a number of immigration laws. Donald Trump has ordered his administration to enforce them.
Trump’s two immigration executive orders, issued last Wednesday, are long, far- reaching, and complicated. But perhaps the most consequential passage in the two combined orders is a single sentence: “The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies t o employ all l awful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”
That is the heart of Trump’s immigration strategy.
“We do not need new laws,” the president said at the Department of Homeland Security on Jan. 25. “We will work within the existing system and framework.”
Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border dominated coverage of the two executive orders. But the orders do much, much more than that — or at least they start the process of doing much, much more.
For those who follow immigration closely, the Trump orders contain several critical provisions. Among them:
1) End “catch and release.” In the Obama years, as thousands of people, mostly from Central America, crossed the Mexican border illegally — and made no effort to escape apprehension, asking for a “permiso” to stay — the border authorities would briefly detain them, give them a date to show up in court, and let them go. The practice was known as “catch and release.”
It did not take a rocket scientist to predict that most, now safely inside the U.S., would not show up for court. With family units who arrived in that fashion, immigration court statistics gathered by the Center for Immigration Studies (a group which favors tighter immigration restrictions), reveal that 84 percent do not show up in court.
Under Trump’s new directive, the Department of Homeland Security will now detain those illegal crossers and handle their cases on the spot. “The Secretary (of DHS) shall immediately take all appropriate actions to ensure the detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law,” the order on border enforcement says, “pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from the country to the extent permitted by law.”
2) Put pressure on “sanctuary cities.”
“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” t he Trump order on interior enforcement says. The order would give the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to determine “that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with (federal law) are not eligible to receive federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the (DHS) Secretary.”
Some leaders of sanctuary cities are already promising to fight the federal government. But some will likely yield to federal pressure — a remarkable change from the Obama years.
3) Speed deportations. Both the Obama administration and now Trump said they want to remove illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes.