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November 6, 2019

Incremental Progress on Immigration

President Trump has made positive changes that are working, even if judges thwart other things.

According to a recently released policy assessment by the Department of Homeland Security, the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) have made significant progress toward reducing the number of illegal immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.

Established in January, the MPP requires that migrants coming from the southern border seeking asylum must wait in Mexico while their cases go through the immigration courts. In previous years, migrants seeking asylum were allowed to remain in the U.S., a loophole that many used to simply disappear into the country without showing up for their hearings.

Thanks to a bilateral agreement President Donald Trump made with Mexico over the summer, migrants now stay in camps on the Mexican side of the border, where they are given permission to pursue employment while they await their day in court. They appear before a U.S. immigration judge via video conference.

DHS has rated the program a success, with 13,000 cases having been heard through October. There are currently 20,000 migrants sheltered in Mexico, and the DHS assessment indicates that a significant number of the 55,000 returned migrants have abandoned their asylum claims and returned to their home countries.

Customs and Border Patrol officials also noted recently that border apprehensions have declined for four consecutive months, with 52,000 migrants apprehended or turned away at the border in September. Numbers for October are still forthcoming, but this represents a 65% drop off from the eye-popping 144,000 apprehensions in May. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan noted that MPP, bilateral agreements with Guatemala and El Salvador, and efforts to close immigration loopholes have done a lot to restore integrity to the immigration system.

At the same time, the number of refugees settling in the U.S. has also significantly decreased, with not one refugee admitted to the U.S. since the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. (By contrast, more than 11,000 refugees were admitted during the same period in 2016.) President Trump recently limited the number of refugees to be resettled in the U.S. to a record-low 18,000 for FY2020. The ceiling in previous years was much higher, averaging approximately 75,000 during the Bush and Obama administrations.

These numbers indicate that President Trump has kept his promise to clean up immigration, though it has been a costly fight with a few setbacks. Appeals courts have consistently ruled against the administration with regard to sanctuary cities. Trump has tried to use the power of the purse against the more than 500 city, county, and state jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration law. Withholding federal grants and money for law enforcement has led to numerous court challenges, most recently with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The common thread in rejecting Trump’s actions is that only Congress can authorize conditions on federal grants to state and local governments. The administration has argued that only the federal government may dictate immigration policy, and these so-called sanctuary cities are refusing to comply with federal law. The bitter irony of this court fight is that the overwhelmingly leftist sanctuary jurisdictions are claiming federalist principles in making their case. It must be nice to pick and choose when to adhere to the governing principles of the United States.

DACA will be returning to the Supreme Court Nov. 12, when three consolidated cases will be heard. At issue is whether the president has the authority to roll back the program by executive order, which was established by President Barack Obama … by executive order. Lower courts stacked with Democrat appointees have fought Trump at every step, claiming his decisions was based on “racial animus.” The last time DACA was before the High Court was in 2016, but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left the case deadlocked 4-4, and it was returned in place to the lower court. Trump may fare better this time around with the court’s current conservative majority, but only time will tell.

When Trump ran for president in 2016, he made immigration reform a signature issue of his campaign. He spoke out on the country’s inconsistent, toothless, and utterly failed immigration policy, and his promise to secure the southern border and change the broken immigration system was one of the main reasons he was elected president. That being the case, leftists are doing everything they can do stymy his efforts and prevent his reelection. Despite their efforts, the outlook is improved for a stronger immigration system and more secure border.

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