President Barack Obama’s border and immigration secretary praised GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, spiking alarm among pro-American immigration reformers who fear that President-elect Donald Trump will pick McCaul to run the critical Department of Homeland Security.
The praise for McCaul by DHS chief Jeh Johnson “should be the kiss of death in the Trump administration,” said Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies. The endorsement “signals that in Johnson’s estimation, McCaul is not likely to carry out the [pro-American] policies Trump won on,” she added.
On Wednesday, Johnson told the Washington Times that “I don’t know anybody who is stronger on border security in Congress that I have dealt with.”
But McCaul “is on the record opposing virtually everything Donald Trump has proposed,” said Rosemary Jenks, the government relations head at NumbersUSA. “It would be really difficult to push through the Trump agenda with chairman McCaul as secretary of the DHS.”
Bestselling conservative author Ann Coulter also wrote a column Wednesday warning Trump not to betray the tens of millions of voters who sent him to the White House on immigration.
It will surprise consumers of American media to learn this, but every promise Trump made on immigration is already the law. Why? Because politicians know that’s what the public wants. So they pass the laws—and then refuse to enforce them. But if Trump doesn’t appoint the sort of people capable of fulfilling his campaign promises on immigration, he will fail. He’ll be just another lying politician, and his supporters will watch in horror as rapists, terrorists and drug dealers continue living in our country.
“If Trump betrays voters on immigration, he can have as many rallies as he wants, but Americans will say, ‘Been there, done that—you screwed us.’ He will never escape the stink of broken campaign promises,” said Coulter, who strongly favors giving the job to immigration hawk Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state.
“Johnson is supporting McCaul because In Rep. Michael McCaul’s time as House Homeland Security Committee chair, he has never significantly challenged any of the Obama administration’s clearly unlawful and unconstitutional actions on immigration or other matters,” said William Gheen, founder of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. McCaul “plays the tough guy role to the Republicans [but] he is in actuality a protector and facilitator for Obama’s illegal immigration dirty deeds,” Gheen added.
If Trump nominate McCaul is the DHS, “that would be very disappointing to all of us that believed his campaign promises to secure our borders and deport millions of illegal immigrants under current U.S. laws,” Gheen said.
President-elect Donald Trump has interviewed McCaul, who currently chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, for Johnson’s position.
McCaul further alarmed his critics on Wednesday evening, when he touted his record in an appearance on Fox News. McCaul praised his record on border security and anti-terrorism, but he also downplayed or ignored the popular campaign issues that allowed Trump to win on Nov. 8 — Trump’s promise to build a wall and to reduce the impact of mass immigration on Americans’ jobs and wages.
McCaul said he talked with President-elect Trump about the need to bolster anti-terror policies by stronger vetting of Islamic migrants before they’re allowed into the nation. “I’ve been consistently the biggest on the Hill to secure the border, and I talked to Mr. Trump about how we can secure the border, once and for all, and building the wall. Countless times I’ve stood up to defend the United States against terror coming in,” he said.
When asked about cooperation between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump, McCaul said “I think there’s going to be great synergy … I think what we will be doing is looking at how do we build the wall, secure the border, how do we deport criminal aliens … how do we close terror pathways into the United States.”
McCaul did not mention Trump’s promise to protect Americans from the cheap-labor immigration that is strongly favored by Ryan, by most of the GOP caucus and by the GOP’s donors.
Trump campaigned against immigration policies and work visas—such as the H-1B visa—that disadvantage Americans. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said in a March 2016 statement. “No exceptions,” he added.
But McCaul has a very weak record on protecting Americans workers from low-wage immigration, legal and illegal, say advocates for pro-American immigration reforms.
For example, shortly after Obama allowed tens of thousands of Central Americans to flood across the Texas border in late 2014, McCaul introduced a bill in early 2015 titled “Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015.”
That bill was defeated by McCaul’s GOP peers, amid strong criticism by pro-American reformers. For example, Vaughan then panned McCaul’s bill as an “empty green suit,” partly because it called for the construction of only 27 additional miles of fencing along the 2,000 mile border.
The lack of meaningful enforcement measures [in the McCaul Bill] gives the impression that the backers of this bill are no more serious about addressing illegal immigration and the risks and costs it imposes on American communities than are the Obama administration and the sponsors of the Schumer-Rubio bill that was rammed through the Senate in 2013 …
To put this into perspective, Hudspeth County, Texas, alone has 95 miles of unfenced border. We don’t need to build fencing along the entire border, but 27 more miles (to be built in three separate sectors) is a drop in the bucket compared to the 700 miles that was authorized (but never completed) by the 2006 Secure Fence Act”…
[The bill] proposes to spend $10 billion of taxpayer money without ensuring that a single illegal alien will be sent home.
McCaul’s bill “[did] nothing to preclude anyone in the world from turning themselves in at the U.S. border and obtaining automatic entry and federal benefits,” according to Kenneth Palinkas, the President of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, which represents 12,000 officers and employees.
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate’s judiciary committee, praised the House’s GOP caucus for defeating McCaul’s bill.
Thanks to house of Rep not moving ahead w BorderSecurity bill. It wld not secure border. Now House has time to marry that w Judiciary bill
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) January 27, 2015
Jeh Johnson’s new praise for McCaul should deep-six McCaul’s chances at the DHS, because it shows that McCaul won’t reverse Obama’s pro-immigration policies, Vaughan said.
Since his confirmation in December 2013, Johnson “has dismantled routine immigration enforcement and established policies that send a message all around the world, that if you make it into the United States, you’ll face no threat of deportation unless you’re convicted of a criminal offense,” said Vaughan.
Johnson has used his authority to drastically increase the annual inflow of foreign workers to more than two million, she said.
He’s admitted roughly one million legal immigrants per year, increased the inflow of temporary guest-workers above 650,000 per year, and has handed out roughly one million work permits per year. The extra work permits have been given to unskilled Central American migrants, to Haitian migrants, to the spouses of guest-workers, to guest-workers whose visas have expired, and to at least 740,000 younger illegal immigrants, she said.
That influx adds at least two new foreign workers each year to the labor market—even as four million young American men and women begin looking for jobs.
McCaul has also attacked Trump’s proposed ban on foreign-born Muslims entering the U.S. as unconstitutional and dangerous: If the U.S. didn’t let in an unspecified number of Muslims, more Muslims would join the Islamic State and kill more non-Muslims, he suggested. “They take things like this and then they spin it to their advantage to inflame the Muslim world to get more recruits to join the cause,” he said.
Neil Munro contributed to this report.