I have been saying for a long time that, while our current legal immigration system poses intractable problems, illegal immigration is relatively easy to solve: we only need to enforce our existing laws. Donald Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General signals that he intends to do just that. Politico belatedly tumbles, apparently, to what is going on: “Immigration-hardliner Sessions could execute crackdown as AG.”
If confirmed as Trump’s attorney general, the Alabama senator would instantly become one of the most powerful people overseeing the nation’s immigration policy, with wide latitude over the kinds of immigration violations to prosecute and who would be deported.
As the nation’s top cop, Sessions would be able to direct limited department resources to pursuing immigration cases. He could launch federal investigations into what he perceives as discrimination against U.S. citizens caused by immigration. He would be in charge of drafting legal rationales for immigration policies under the Trump administration.
And Sessions, as attorney general, could find ways to choke off funding for “sanctuary cities,” where local officials decline to help federal officials identify undocumented immigrants so they can be deported.
Doesn’t that sound great? And it’s not all, either. But first, this:
Some immigrant advocates are alarmed by the idea of a Justice Department led by someone they see as far outside the mainstream.
It can’t be “far outside the mainstream” to enforce existing federal law. On the contrary, it is the president’s most fundamental constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Barack Obama violated this duty, to his everlasting shame. It also can’t be “far outside the mainstream” for Trump and Sessions to carry out the policies on which Trump campaigned and was elected.
Politico adds much more about the powers Sessions will wield as Attorney General. Strangely, however, the most important point comes near the end:
Sessions would have similarly expansive powers when it comes to enforcing immigration law. The attorney general sets guidelines for the types of violations federal prosecutors should pursue.
Von Spakovksy said a Sessions-led Justice Department could, for example, ramp up enforcement of a current ban on employers hiring those who are here illegally.
“If the employer provision is enforced and the news gets out that the Justice Department is finally enforcing that provision … that will lead to large numbers of individuals self-deporting,” said von Spakovsky, now a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
That is exactly right. The long-promised wall along the Mexican border, already mandated by federal law, may be a good idea but is mostly a distraction. If the executive branch finally carries out its duty to enforce the immigration laws against employers by sending a few farmers, owners of roofing companies, executives of meat packing plants and hotel managers to prison, the job market for illegal aliens will rapidly disappear. The vast majority will then self-deport, to use Mitt Romney’s perfectly appropriate phrase.
All of this is devoutly hoped for by most Americans. In the first days of the new administration, it looks as though 1) Congress will pass a bill repealing Obamacare, 2) Sessions will start to move against illegal immigration, and 3) President Trump will appoint a conservative to the still-vacant Supreme Court seat. This is a trifecta the likes of which we conservatives have not seen in a long, long time.