On Wednesday, President Trump unveiled a powerful executive action with regard to illegal immigration. While promoting the executive action at the Department of Homeland Security, Trump said, “I’m asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States. They will be enforced and enforced strongly.” He added, “We’re going to restore the rule of law in the United States…A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders. You guys are about to be very, very busy doing your job [as] you want to.”
The most talked-about provision called for the construction of the famed Trump Wall along the southern border; the left is idiotically terming this a violation of civil rights, although it is unclear how a nation building a barrier along an internationally-recognized border amounts to a civil rights violation.
But there was much more to it than that.
Here are seven other elements of the Trump immigration executive action today:
1. Broaden Enforcement Priorities. According to Section 5(c), the Secretary of Homeland Security has now been granted the power to prioritize for removal those who “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” This means anyone who has crossed the border illegally. Whereas under President Obama, other crimes were prioritized, now illegal presence in the country has become a priority for law enforcement. The executive action also extends prioritization to false use of a Social Security number, for example (Section 5(d)), or taking public benefits illegally (Section 5(e)).
2. Add Agents. The order grants the Secretary the ability to hire 10,000 additional law enforcement officers with money to be found under current allocations.
3. Allow States To Help Police Immigration. Whereas the Obama administration sued the Arizona state government for aiding in enforcement of federal immigration law, Section 8(b) of the order allows States and local law enforcement officials to “perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to investigation, apprehension, or detention of alients in the United States.”
4. Kills Funding To Sanctuary Cities. The jurisprudence on federal grants to states and cities is rather complex, but this executive action seeks to remove eligibility to receive federal grants if those jurisdictions refuse to comply with federal immigration law. The executive order also creates a public shaming capacity for the feds: they are to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”
5. Restoring The Secure Communities Program. The Obama administration originally had a program that allowed the feds to check immigration databases to see local offenders who were here illegally; Obama then killed this in favor of the Priority Enforcement Program, which put limitations on such communication. Trump is returning to the original system.
6. Make Foreign Negotiations Contingent on Acceptance of Repatriated Illegal Immigrants. Section 12 explicitly orders the Secretary of State to “ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.”
7. Make Data More Transparent. The order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to collect data on immigration status of all aliens incarcerated in federal prisons, as well as all federal pretrial detainees, as well as all convicted aliens in state and local prisons.
There are still some unanswered questions. The Trump administration maintains that it will not walk back Obama’s executive amnesty, which leaves those who submitted paperwork to the federal government under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in a gray area. It’s unclear if Trump is actually going to deport everyone who has come here illegally (86 percent have been here more than five years), or if this is just tough talk. It's also somewhat unclear what Trump plans to do about illegal immigration springing not from the border, but from overstayed visas (a large minority of those here illegally).
But it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to law enforcement. Now, it’s time to put together an immigration enforcement bill that makes clear the immigration priorities of the United States with the help of the Republican Congress.