John F. Kelly, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, has launched Trump’s immigration agenda with a pair of memos officially released on Tuesday. These documents demonstrate how serious President Trump is in halting illegal immigration.
Contrary to the liberal hysteria sparked by these memos, they outline in measured tone the sensible steps to be taken to deport illegal aliens who are dangerous to our citizenry. The era of “big immigration” is officially over.
A six-page memo entitled “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest” is followed by its thirteen-page counterpart, “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies.” Signed by Secretary Kelly, these formal documents lay the blueprint for rolling back the harmful immigration policies of the Obama Administration and firmly establishing much-needed national security for Americans.
The number of illegals deported by the Obama Administration in 2015 was the lowest amount in a decade, as merely 333,000 criminals were sent back home. That was down more than 20% from the number of deportations a few years earlier.
It was for political reasons that Obama cut back on deportations, in order to appease the liberal base who view illegals as future Democratic voters. Trump’s new guidelines do not change the law, but merely enforce immigration statutes that Obama refused to.
Secretary Kelly expands deportation to include illegal aliens who have been charged with the commission of a crime regardless of whether they have been convicted. If someone is in this country illegally, then that by itself is contrary to our laws, and our overburdened criminal justice system should not have to obtain a conviction against him before he is sent back to where he came from.
Often persons charged with crimes are out committing more crimes before they are convicted, as convictions can take many months or years to obtain. Also, taxpayers should not have to fund criminal defense attorneys to represent illegal aliens in our court system.
Sometimes wrongful acts are committed by illegal aliens that do not result in criminal charges, such as obtaining money by fraudulent means. These illegals should also be deported, and Trump’s new policy allows for that.
Illegal aliens who pose a risk to others or to the security of our nation should also be deported immediately without awaiting formal criminal charges or convictions. Secretary Kelly’s new policy sensibly authorizes government officials to make such determinations about illegal aliens and take prompt action to safeguard our country against them.
These reforms and others are entirely consistent with the executive orders issued by President Trump last month but improvidently blocked by federal courts. It is expected that new orders will soon be forthcoming from the President that do not give up any of these essential policies.
But enormous obstacles remain to implementation of Trump’s overdue reforms. Deportations still require hearings, and there is a backlog of a year-and-a-half for holding hearings on deportations that are already scheduled.
The alarm bells being sounded in some quarters are unjustified. An official for DHS explained on Tuesday that no mass deportations or roundups were being planned or even intended for the future.
Secretary Kelly’s directives properly advance two additional objectives of the Trump Administration. These new policies seek to reduce sanctuary areas for illegal aliens, and encourage local police to assist in the implementation of our immigration laws.
Until now, sanctuary cities that harbor illegals have been taking federal dollars with impunity, and an analysis by Reuters reveals that the top ten sanctuary cities receive $2.27 billion in federal aid. Yet a recent Harvard-Harris poll found that 80% of Americans oppose the policies of sanctuary cities.
Many local law enforcement programs for dealing with illegal aliens were suspended or not enforced during the Obama Administration. The vast majority of cities and towns across America have police who want to rid their communities of the crime brought in by illegal immigration, but could not do so for the past eight years.
Secretary Kelly indicated that the Trump Administration will restore programs that facilitate cooperation between local and federal law enforcement with respect to apprehending and removing illegal aliens. Specifically, Trump is reinitiating the Secure Communities and 287(g) programs, which authorize police to act like immigration agents and which allow continued imprisonment of illegals suspected of having committed crimes, before they are handed over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Within hours of the announcement of Secretary Kelly’s new policies, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations criticized New York City for releasing from confinement an illegal alien who is a self-described member of a violent street gang. Fortunately ICE was able to track down and arrest him again for deportation.
Trump promised to take strong action against illegal immigration, and he is. We applaud these significant steps forward by the Trump Administration.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously on September 6.