Donald Trump’s Comprehensive Border Reforms Kill Obama’s Pro-Migration Policies

File Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Department of Homeland Security is discarding many of President Barack Obama’s catch-and-release border policies and will hire an additional 15,500 enforcement and border officers, according to two new policy memos.

The comprehensive immigration reforms of Obama’s policies were signed by DHS chief Gen. John Kelly on Feb. 17. They direct DHS officials to use an expedited repatriation process for illegals who have been in the United States for up to two years, to return border-crossing Mexicans home while their appeals for entry are adjudicated, and to prosecute illegal aliens who hire migrant-smugglers to get their children into the United States.

Under Obama, officials were only allowed to use the expedited repatriation process for illegals who arrived within the prior two weeks. Also at Obama’s direction, border-crossers were released into the United States while border officials considered the appeals for asylum, and border officials were required to partner with the people-smuggling coyotes by delivering their cargo—the foreign youths and children—from the borders to their illegal-alien parents residing throughout the United States.

The Kelly memos also revive the 287(g) program, which helps state and local police force work with DHS agents to enforce the nation’s popular immigration laws. Obama shuttered the 287(g) program in 2014.

Both memos are signed by Kelly, but they may be changed by White House lawyers, according to a Saturday report by Reuters. “The White House has the final say,” according to the McClatchey news bureau, which reported both memos.

The new memos do not fully reverse Obama’s pro-immigration policies. For example, the rules do not stop or slow Obama’s 2012 mini-amnesty for younger illegals, the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Under the 2012 program, roughly 750,000 illegal aliens have been given work permits to compete against young Americans for jobs, and also to force down Americans’ wages. During the campaign, Trump promised he would stop that program immediately.

The new memos also do not reduce the annual inflow of one million legal immigrants.

The new rules also do not address Obama’s expansion of the guest-worker programs which have increased the annual inflow of white-collar and blue-collar contract workers to roughly one million per year. The contract workers are not immigrants but are hired by employers to undercut wages sought by Americans workers. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to reform the H-1B white-collar program, which is providing roughly 650,000 foreign graduates to U.S. employers.

The annual inflow of legal immigrants and contract workers adds roughly 2 million wage-reducing workers to the labor supply each year, even though 4 million young Americans also begin looking for work each year. In contrast, illegal immigration adds only several hundred thousand workers to the estimated population of at least 11 million illegal aliens each year. The overall inflow of legal and illegal foreign workers transfers roughly $500 billion from employee’s pockets each year to employers and investors.

The new memos do not include any proposal to use National Guard troops to enforce immigration law, as claimed by the Associated Press on Thursday.

The two memos were decried by immigration lawyers, who will see many of their clients be swiftly sent home without any right to appeal their return in U.S. courts. For example, Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer in Memphis, Tenn., used his Twitter account to explain and slam the new rules before Sunday morning.

The first memo, titled “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest” is six pages long and says that “personnel shall faithfully executive the immigration laws of the United States against all removable aliens.” It continues, saying;

The Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement… I have directed ICE to hire 10,000 officer and agents expeditiously and to take enforcement actions consistent with available resources.

Enforcement agents should first focus on criminal aliens, those engaged in fraud, those who abuse welfare programs and people who have already been ordered to go home, according to the memo. The memo also directs officials to collect fines against “from aliens and from those who facilitate their unlawful presence in the United States.” This directive may prompt officials to levy fines on employers and landlords who employ and house illegal aliens.

Amnesty advocates denounced Kelly’s focus on enforcing the law. David Leopold, an immigration lawyer in Ohio, tweeted:

The memo also lifts privacy protections on illegal aliens. This changes a 2009 policy set by Obama, which protects illegals’ information from being shared with other agencies, such as tax and health-care agencies.

The second memo, also apparently signed Feb. 17 by Kelly, is focused on immigration enforcement far from the border. The second memo is 13 pages long and is titled “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies.”

The memo seeks to block the large-scale migration of youths and children from Central America into the United States, which Obama quietly approved in 2011. Since then, at least 350,000 Central American migrant adults, youths, and children have been allowed into the United States to apply for residency. That Obama-approved migration has imposed a colossal expense on taxpayers and on many youths, who see their crowded public classrooms forced to take Central Americans children who don’t speak English or even Spanish.

The memo tries to stop the Central American migration by applying current law, which says that children of illegal aliens—dubbed “unaccompanied alien children” or UACs—cannot apply for asylum. According to the memo:

Approximately 60% of minors initially determined to be “unaccompanied alien children” are placed in the care of one or more parents illegally residing in the United States. However, by Department policy and practice, such minors maintained their status as “unaccompanied alien children,” notwithstanding that they may no longer meet the statutory definition once they have been placed by HHS in the custody of a parent in the United States who can care for the minor. Exploitation of that policy led to abuses by many of the parents and legal guardians of those minors and has contributed to significant administrative delays in adjudications by immigration courts and users.

The new policy also suggests that enforcement officers repatriate parents who smuggle their children into the United States.

The parents and family members of these children, who are often illegally present in the United States, often pay smugglers several thousand dollars to bring their children into this country. Tragically, many of these children fall victim to robbery, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other crimes of violence by the smugglers and other criminal elements along the dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States. Regardless of the desires for family reunification, or conditions in other countries, the smuggling or trafficking of alien children is intolerable. Accordingly, the Director of [the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] and the Commissioner of [U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency] shall ensure the proper enforcement of our immigration laws against those who–directly or indirectly — facilitate the smuggling or trafficking of alien children into the United States. Proper enforcement includes, but is not limited to, placing such individuals who are removable aliens into removal proceedings, or referring such individuals for criminal prosecution, as appropriate.

Siskind slammed the potential penalties against illegal-alien parents.

Leopold compared Kelly’s policies to Adolf Hilter’s belligerent policy of socialism for Aryans, under which at least 20 million Russians were killed during the invasion of the Soviet Union.

The memo also directs immigration officers to use a “section 235(b)” of the immigration law to detain illegals aliens for up to 90 days while officials determine if they are to be repatriated. The migrants will be released if they agree to return home, the memo says. Migrants can also be released if they get a court order, or if they persuade officials they have a “credible fear” of being persecuted when they return home, the memo says.

Border-crossers who seek asylum will be held at the border until officials decide if their claims have merit, says the memo.

The detention of aliens apprehended at the border is critical to the effective enforcement of the immigration laws. Aliens who are released from custody pending a determination of their removability are highly likely to abscond and fail to attend their removal hearings. Moreover, the screening of credible fear claims by USC IS and adjudication of asylum claims by EOIR at detention facilities located at or near the point of apprehension will facilitate an expedited resolution of those claims and result in lower detention and transportation costs.

The memo seems to direct officials to adopt a skeptical attitude towards claims of “credible fear,” saying:

The asylum officer shall make a positive credible fear finding only after the officer has considered all relevant evidence and determined, based on credible evidence, that the alien has a significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum, or for withholding or deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, based on established legal authority.

The new skepticism may stop the northward migration of Central Americans from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The second memo also restarts the 287(g) program, which “led to the identification of more than 402,000 removable aliens, primarily through encounters at local jails” from January 2006 through September 2015, according to the memo, which adds:

Empowering state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law is critical to an effective enforcement strategy. Aliens who engage in criminal conduct are priorities for arrest and removal and will often be encountered by state and local law enforcement officers during the course of their routine duties. It is in the interest of the Department to partner with those state and local jurisdictions through 287(g) agreements to assist in the arrest and removal of criminal aliens.

The second memo also starts the process of building the border wall or fence promised by President Trump on the campaign trail.

Consistent with the President’s Executive Order, the will of Congress and the need to secure the border in the national interest, CBP, in consultation with the appropriate executive departments and agencies, and nongovernmental entities having relevant expertise- and using materials originating in the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law- shall immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall, including the attendant lighting, technology (including sensors), as well as patrol and access roads, along the land border with Mexico in accordance with existing law, in the most appropriate locations and utilizing appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve operational control of the border.

The second memo also shuts down a back-door amnesty program run by the Obama administration. This back-door was created when officials began handing out permission, dubbed “advance parole,” for many illegals to legally reenter the country. The illegals could then take a quick trip home and then be paroled legally back into the United States, so allowing them to apply for green cards and legal residency. According to the second memo:

The authority to parole aliens into the United States is set forth in section 212(d)(5) of the INA, which provides that the Secretary may, in his discretion and on a case-by-case basis, temporarily parole into the United States any alien who is an applicant for admission for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Upon careful scrutiny, the statutory language appears to strongly counsel in favor of using the parole authority sparingly and only in individual cases where, after careful consideration of the circumstances, parole is necessary because of demonstrated urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Siskind strongly objected to the shutdown of the amnesty loophole.


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