Lewis Morris / Feb. 22, 2017

Changing the Presumption of Immigration Enforcement

New DHS orders are a big step in reversing Obama's policies.

President Donald Trump’s promise to take on illegal immigration went from rhetoric to reality this week when Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released two memos outlining directives that aim to get a handle on the problem. Here’s the primary difference from the last eight years: Under Barack Obama, the presumption was against deportation; now it’s in favor of removing illegals. That’s a sea change in emphasis that’s critical to restoring Rule of Law.

Kelly was one of the first of Trump’s cabinet nominees to clear the Senate, and by a largely bipartisan vote of 88-11. The widely respected retired Marine Corps general has a great deal of experience working in Latin America, and he also served as a homeland security advisor during the Obama administration. His bona fides were recognized and respected during his confirmation hearing and Senate vote. Now that he is making good on the promise of his appointment, we’ll have to see how bipartisan the support truly is for his actions.

Kelly’s memoranda lay out the DHS plan to tackle illegal immigration in unmistakable detail. First, DHS is going back to pursuing criminal offenses committed by illegal immigrants. This is once again an unequivocally deportable offense. And that will include defrauding public welfare programs.

Additionally, local law enforcement will be allowed to act as immigration agents in these criminal cases, a power that was greatly reduced during the Obama years.

DHS will also call for the hiring of 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents, and an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents. You may recall during the Obama years that ICE and the Border Patrol were forced to get creative about meeting their mandate with reduced funds and smaller hiring quotas.

As Andrew McCarthy put it, “Obama did not so much openly push for the repeal or relaxation of immigration laws; his method was to pretend to enforce them (i.e., pretend that they were a ‘priority’) while implementing a process that quietly immunized most aliens.”

Thankfully, Kelly’s order will also end one of those “priorities” — the so-called “catch-and-release” policy. It’s misguided and ultimately dangerous to allow arrested illegal immigrant felons to leave incarceration and rejoin the citizen population while awaiting trial — essentially allowing them to disappear into the country until they’re picked up again for another crime. Many of them were never found again.

And, yes, the DHS memo also calls for concrete plans to design and build a border wall between the United States and Mexico, starting at key points such as El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and Southern California. Trump maintains that Mexico will pay for the wall. Mexico says that will never happen, but in reality, it can happen very simply by reducing Mexican aid by the amount of money needed to pay for the wall’s construction. But that’s a topic for another conversation.

What’s important right now is stemming the tide of illegals coming into this country and staying without consequence.

“The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and crated a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly wrote in the memos.

The Left wants everyone to think that these actions are based on Trump-era xenophobia and racism. But it’s a well-documented fact that international drug cartels, human traffickers, and international terrorist groups have flocked to our porous southern border because it’s so ridiculously easy to cross. Making our border secure from threats is simple logic. One of the most fundamental rules of national security is to secure a nation’s borders.

Obama claimed to be concerned about the border and the plight of illegal immigrants, but only to the extent that these newcomers — legal or otherwise — could help the leftist cause. Trump has made it a priority to reverse this lawlessness in favor of secure borders.

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