“A nation without borders is not a nation" ~ Donald Trump today at the Department of Homeland Security
It’s Christmas come early for conservatives. Actually, for all Americans who care about homeland security.
Today represents a turning point in which President Donald Trump has used Obama’s pen and phone for the first game-changing series of executive actions.
The core job of the federal government is not to get involved in health insurance or “stimulate” the economy. The most important job is to protect our national sovereignty and the security of all the states. That begins with border security and crafting an immigration policy that puts American interests first. While some of our statutes need updating, many of the existing immigration laws are actually written properly, albeit have been ignored by Obama and past presidents. This is where Trump’s executive actions come into place.
The immigration laws were written as such that they gave the president broad latitude to clamp down on immigration and ratchet up enforcement, but not to loosen immigration and open up the borders. And rightfully so. A nation must retain the ability to shut down immigration swiftly in order to protect American sovereignty and security. On the other hand, any expansion must be done judiciously with the full input of the American people as reflected through a robust debate in Congress. Some liberal critics might suggest that conservatives are being hypocritical by promoting robust executive action from Trump after criticizing Obama’s use of his executive pen for years. The difference is that Trump is actually following the statutes passed by Congress while Obama violated the letter and spirit of the laws.
Suspending refugee program and cutting off visas from dangerous countries
The insane nightmare of importing the entire Middle East is long over. At least for now.
Here are the details from a preliminary draft:
Trump plans to shut off the issuance of all new immigrant and non-immigrant visas for 30 days from the following six volatile countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. After 30 days, the secretary of state and secretary of homeland security must submit a report to completely revamp the vetting process going forward.
Countries will have to submit within 60 days any information that the administration determines necessary, pursuant to the findings of this report, in order to adjudicate a visa application and ensure they are properly vetted. Any country that fails to submit this information will not be able to send foreign nationals to our country. All the while, the ban can be extended and expanded at any time.
In addition, the entire refugee resettlement program is suspended for four months pending a complete investigation of the program and a plan to restructure it and prioritize those who are truly in danger because of religious persecution. After 120 days, the program may resume but only for those countries from which Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson determine do not pose a threat. The program from Syria is completely suspended until the president personally gives the green light.
Furthermore, the order suspends the Visa Waiver Interview Program, and therefore requires that anyone wishing to renew their non-immigrant visa first undergo an in-person interview with U.S. officials in the consulate of their home country.
This common sense order can’t come at a better time. Obama has brought in 46,500 refugees, not including other visa categories, from these six countries just since the beginning of 2016. Obama’s bureaucrats are still running the State Department (and unless Tillerson is pressured to clean them out, they will continue to do so), and have brought in almost 1,000 refugees since Inauguration Day alone!
While liberals will cry foul about taking such action from the White House, we must remind them that the Immigration and Nationality Act (§ 212(f)) gives the president plenary power to “by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants.” This power is universal, enforceable at the will of the president, and applies any time for any circumstance.
Trump also announced that he is directing DHS to begin the process of constructing the border fence, a signature promise of his campaign. Although this endeavor will eventually need more appropriations, which will likely be forthcoming in April, Trump absolutely has the statutory authority to begin construction. Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 — as amended by the REAL ID Act of 2005, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 — requires DHS to construct “not less than 700 miles” of fencing along the border. The locations, nature of the fence, time-frame, and any length beyond 700 miles are left up to the discretion of the president. In addition, the DHS secretary may waive all legal requirements that impede any construction.
As CRS observes:
Indeed, nothing in current statute would appear to bar DHS from potentially installing hundreds of miles of additional fencing or other barriers along the border, at least so long as the action was determined appropriate to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry.
[You can read more here for why a border fence is a force multiplier that will actually stop 95% of border crossings and is amazingly cost effective.]
Restoring interior enforcement
As part of today’s executive orders, Trump announced that they would cut off law enforcement grants to sanctuary cities. As I’ve noted before, this is one of the few areas where states have no right to push back and cutting off funding is part of existing law.
Perhaps the most underappreciated aspect of the orders was the restoration of the Secure Communities Program. Obama unilaterally abolished it as part of the DAPA amnesty and the elimination of this program is responsible for the surge in criminal aliens. Secure Communities was one of the most effective law enforcement programs in the field. It facilitated coordination between local law enforcement to share information through the universal fingerprint database on illegal aliens held in their prisons.
There is no reason anyone here illegally in the first place should remain in the country if they are in prison for any reason. Overall, ICE detainers declined 73% from the peak in March 2011 before the first round of Obama amnesties was fully implemented. Restoring Secure Communities will go a long way in getting rid over well over a million criminal aliens, a goal that any intellectually honest liberal should share.
Work to be done: End Obama’s illegal DACA amnesty
Obviously, there is a limit to what a president can do in one day. Certainly the list of accomplishments from today are enough to register as a great start. However, there is one action Trump must take immediately: the repeal of Obama’s DACA amnesty.
NEW: Young undocumented "dreamers" are still getting work permits under Trump, despite his promises to cancel DACA. https://t.co/xSvykjBk56— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 24, 2017
As we noted earlier this week, the Trump administration is giving indications that they don’t plan to rescind DACA. The prevailing talking point is that they want to focus on criminal aliens and dangerous refugees. And to their credit, they have certainly gone a long way towards addressing those issues today. However, the issue with Obama’s amnesty is that 1) it’s patently unconstitutional and 2) it’s not merely an issue of deportation but one of providing illegal aliens with Social Security cards and refundable tax credits. Trump’s own DHS is now issuing hundreds of unconstitutional DACA papers every day. That can and must end now simply by shutting off the spigot. We don’t have to deal with the deportation issue now. And while we’re at it, let’s stop calling them “Dreamers” and focus on American Dreamers, to paraphrase Trump.
Overall, Trump has gone a long way in embarking on some of the most important immigration changes in decades, and has fulfilled many of the homeland security ideas on our checklist, something that should have happened after 9/11.
Today is a blueprint for how to move forward. We need to continue focusing on the issues that matter, always remaining relentlessly on offense promoting our affirmative ideas on multiple fronts to overwhelm the other side rather than reacting to the latest nonsense in the media. Conservatives should be proud that the pressure and culture of accountability they built throughout this election bore fruit in such spectacular fashion.
As for Trump, if he sticks to policy, eases off on Twitter, and picks up his pen, he will go a long way to truly making America great again.
Author's note: This post has been updated. A previous version referred to the "Visa Waiver Program" instead of the "Visa Waiver Interview Program."