Media speculation about what President-elect Donald Trump will do regarding immigration is rampant. Let’s be frank, much of the reporting is irresponsible. Trump has eliminated his immigration campaign rhetoric that promised an aggressive stance on deporting illegal immigrants.
Instead, he’s repeatedly stated that his first priorities are deporting criminal aliens and securing the border. After that, Trump said he would decide what to do about the remaining illegal immigrants. As for the DREAMers, Trump recently said, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.” Nevertheless, press panic continues unabated.
Whatever immigration solution Trump may come up with, one thing is crystal clear: incoming Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who once correctly called D.C. politics “a cesspool,” and incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions are proof that enforcement is on the way. Enforcement is a tough pill for immigration advocates to swallow. They successfully cowed previous DHS Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, as well as Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. They’ll have no such luck with Kelly and Sessions.
The open borders lobby has been on a mostly uninterrupted 50-year winning streak since the 1965 Immigration Act. But now that Kelly and Sessions are in, the nonenforcement era is over. But the challenges they face are enormous.
Since four-star General Kelly served as head of the U.S. Southern Command from 2012-2015, strengthening the border is a logical place for him to start. In his 2015 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kelly said that criminal human smuggling networks and drug cartels could facilitate the movement of terrorists. Kelly added, “The border is, if not wide open, then certainly open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country.”
Keeping terrorists out of the homeland is vital. But border abuses come in multiple forms, some of them easily ended. Take, for example, asylum claims made at the border which have seen a ten-fold increase in applications since President Obama took office in 2009, the year he ordered DHS to free aliens while their cases are pending. Beginning with Obama’s second term in 2012, border officials recorded 8,147 illegal immigrants that petitioned for asylum. By 2014, the total grew to 28,793, and through the first 10 months of 2016 it had reached a record 46,628.
The lax asylum practice has attracted migrants from not only nearby Central America, but also from faraway lands like Haiti, China and Africa, where they’ve lined up at the border to take advantage.
Simply by saying the so-called magic words, aliens are released into the general population. Advocacy groups, smugglers and relatives that preceded the aliens to the U.S. have coached the migrants to say that they have a credible fear of returning home. Although few ever officially receive asylum, they’re rarely deported, and blend undetected into the general population.
Trump could change Obama’s policy immediately. Simply return illegal immigrants from the border that are obviously making false statements. That easily accomplished task would keep the aliens out of the homeland and also send the message to foreign nationals who may be considering unlawful entry that effective Jan. 20, 2017, immigration laws will be strictly enforced.
A Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow, Joe Guzzardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.