Trump May Appoint Immigration Czar

Kris Kobach, Ken Cuccinelli
Getty/AP Images

President Donald Trump may appoint an “immigration czar” to help him coordinate the government’s fractured authority over border security, asylum law, the labor supply, and visas, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The AP reported:

The Trump administration is considering bringing on a “border” or “immigration czar” to coordinate the president’s immigration policies across various federal agencies, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

Trump is weighing two potential candidates for the post: Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — two far-right conservatives with strong views on immigration, according to the people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the conversations publicly.

However, the report does not say if the appointee would be responsible for the border only or for the much broader issue of immigration, which includes visa workers, legal immigration, deportations, and much else. The AP described the job vaguely either as “a ‘border’ or ‘immigration czar.'”

The leak may be designed to rally opposition to the proposal by pairing it with two advocates who are strongly opposed by the business wing of the GOP. Kobach is a strong supporter of Trump, but he is opposed by business groups that support a large-scale inflow of foreign workers. In 2013, Cuccinelli narrowly lost his race for Virginia governor after the Republican National Committee provided him little funding.

In the White House, Trump does not have a deputy to daily push his goals and to coordinate the agencies’ rival priorities. As Trump deals with many top-level issues, his competing deputies tend to dominate low-priority debates. For example, Trump’s deputies sidelined his demand for border funding during congressional budget talks in 2017 and 2018. According to the Wall Street Journal:

In March [2018], Congress completed a $1.3 trillion spending package, but included just $1.6 billion for a border barrier, with most of the money intended to replace existing fencing. It banned the money from being spent on concrete slabs or any other of the wall prototypes the White House was considering.

Upset there wasn’t more money for the wall, Mr. Trump threatened to veto it. At an emergency meeting at the White House with his staff and Republican leaders, Mr. Trump learned that the spending bill incorporated all of the border wall money that was requested in the White House budget proposal.

“Who the f— put that in my request?” Mr. Trump shouted.

A top-level coordinator is also needed because immigration issues are divided among several agencies.

For example, visas are reviewed and approved by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.

Requests for workers are approved by the Department of Labor, DHS, and the state department.

Asylum requests are processed by DHS and the justice department.

The flow of “Unaccompanied Alien Children” is managed by DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Lawsuits and appeals involving immigration are handled by the Justice Department.

The border wall is being managed by the Pentagon’s Corps of Engineers and the DHS.

A White House czar “could work, but it is often a bureaucratic way to be seen as doing something,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “It is probably is a good idea to have one person oversee all the immigration stuff … but if you just have a border czar, I’m not sure how useful that is.”

The czar’s personal authority could be weak or strong, he said. “It certainly could not hurt — but it would depend on who it was and how much juice that person had compared to other people in the administration.”  Also, he said, the czar “should be somebody who does nothing but immigration,” he added.

The ideological priorities of the person for the job are critical, he said. “The fact is that we have a DHS Secretary [Kirstjen Nielsen] who does not agree with the administration … Clearly, if there was a DHS Secretary who actually shared the administration’s professsed goals on immigration, of tightening up the labor market as well as enforcing the border, that would help.”

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. But the federal government then imports approximately 1.1 million legal immigrants, refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar guest workers and roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers, and also tolerates about eight million illegal workers.

This federal policy of flooding the market with cheap white-collar graduates and blue-collar foreign labor is intended to boost economic growth for investors. This policy shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts children’s schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.


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