Two members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, threw their weight behind the White House’s “immigration policy priorities” shortly after they were announced Sunday night.
The priorities appear to potentially allow a legislative codification of some form of amnesty for the approximately 800,000 illegal aliens included in the now-ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order if the administration can secure the other main immigration aims of Trump’s 2016 campaign, chief among them the wall on the southern border. The plan is short on negotiating specifics, but gives an outline of what the White House will be looking for in any deal.
Sessions, one of the leading political voices against amnesty from his Senate days, and far and away the most vocal cabinet member on the issue since taking up his new post, was first to respond to the announcement.
“For decades the American people rightly have pleaded with their government for a lawful system of immigration,” Sessions wrote in a Department of Justice press release, “They have asked for secure borders and an immigration system that serves the national interest.”
Sessions presented a hopeful outlook for the proposals’ future, writing:
These are reasonable proposals that will build on the early success of President Trump’s leadership. This plan will work. If followed it will produce an immigration system with integrity and one in which we can take pride. Perhaps the best result will be that unlawful attempts to enter will continue their dramatic decline.
I applaud President Trump and urge Congress to listen to the American people and swiftly pass these commonsense proposals into law. The Department of Justice stands ready to continue making our neighborhoods and communities safe and secure again.
Tillerson, has been less involved with immigration policy, but is just emerging from the shadow of controversy over comments he reportedly made in July about the president became public last week. He continued to present a united front with President Trump, having the following to say about the priorities:
The President’s new immigration priorities are focused on keeping Americans safe, ensuring our sovereignty through strong borders, and preserving our country as a nation of laws. The first duty of the federal government is to provide for the national security of the American people, and President Trump’s measures will end vulnerabilities in our immigration system that hinder our ability to protect our homeland.
The State Department will do its part by, among other measures, continuing to crack down on passport fraud, making sure all visa applicants are thoroughly screened, and putting pressure on countries to curb illegal immigration at the source. Working together with other federal agencies, we will continue to implement measures that strengthen vetting of those referred for refugee resettlement. Even as we take new steps to protect Americans, we will make sure the United States remains a beacon of liberty for people the world over.
The left-leaning media and pro-amnesty non-profits also quickly came out against the priorities, with one group calling them a “poison pill.” Some in the media sought to characterize the priorities as the exclusive work White House advisor Stephen Miller, a frequent target of the press among Trump’s staff.