Yesterday, President Trump signed two executive orders relating to immigration. In the first few days of his administration we have already found that the Trump we see as President is the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail, for better–mostly–and for worse. So the contents of the immigration orders come as no surprise.
The first is titled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. Section 1 of the Order includes this language:
Although Federal immigration law provides a robust framework for Federal-State partnership in enforcing our immigration laws–and the Congress has authorized and provided appropriations to secure our borders–the Federal Government has failed to discharge this basic sovereign responsibility. The purpose of this Order is to direct executive departments and agencies…to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely.
The Order goes on to direct construction of a “physical wall along the southern border.” It also orders termination of “catch and release” and directs detention of apprehended illegal immigrants. There is much more, including what sounds like deputizing of state and local law enforcement to aid in the execution of federal law. Here is the order in its entirety:
The second order is titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” It recognizes that interior enforcement is the key to immigration policy; unfortunately, it does nothing about the most important aspect of interior enforcement, going after employers who hire illegal aliens.
Section 2 of the order says that “It is the policy of the executive branch to: (a) Ensure the faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States, including the INA, against all removable aliens….” Faithfully executing the laws is, of course, the first duty of the president under Article II of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Obama administration abandoned all pretext of carrying out that basic responsibility.
In addition to generally directing enforcement of our immigration laws, the order sets out priorities for removal of illegal aliens; directs collaboration with state and local authorities; orders an end to federal grants to sanctuary cities, “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the [Homeland Security] Secretary”; directs publication of a weekly list of crimes committed by illegal aliens; orders sanctions against countries that refuse to accept deportees; and more. This is the complete order:
A correspondent with deep knowledge of the subject writes concerning the “Enhancing Public Safety In the Interior” order:
Except for the massive failure on DACA, which, hopefully, they intend to correct, this is an OK first step. A lot is “well, duh!”…except that no administration ever did the expected enforcements actions, like no more “catch and release” and actually undertaking construction of the wall as legislated in 2006! The prioritization of criminals is just existing Obama policy, though, to be sure, we can expect more vigor. And I love the idea of the weekly report of illegal alien criminals AND those that a sanctuary city failed to detain, as well as the office of assistance for their victims! Go ahead, Nancy and Chuck…oppose that, please!
Needless to say cutting off the sanctuary cities is wonderful, too, though, it’s heavily qualified and all talk right now.
This, however, is the best, though I remain dubious as to whether they’d actually do it, especially against employers, about which there is the usual total silence:
Sec. 6. Civil Fines and Penalties. As soon as practicable, and by no later than one year after the date of this order, the Secretary shall issue guidance and promulgate regulations, where required by law, to ensure the assessment and collection of all fines and penalties that the Secretary is authorized under the law to assess and collect from aliens unlawfully present in the United States and from those who facilitate their presence in the United States.
The fines are more likely than not nominal but a dozen RICO prosecutions of hirers and harborers would snap the usual suspects to attention.
We will see how all of this plays out in the years to come, but it seems clear that at a minimum, the Trump administration will make the first serious effort to enforce our immigration laws in a long time.