President Trump has brought renewed attention to the issue of immigration. While it has been a topic of importance to Republican voters for years, GOP lawmakers have continually swept it under the rug to avoid confrontation with the powerful pro-immigration lobby.
Spurred on by an election victory that featured immigration as its centerpiece, Trump has moved to undo Obama-era policies that encouraged illegal entry. According to the Washington Examiner, a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates that under Obama, up to 200,000 immigration cases were administratively “closed” without action–allowing thousands of illegal immigrants freedom to move around the country.
As Andrew R. Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies explains, the Obama administration allowed immigration judges to abuse their discretional authority to close cases. The Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also set priorities for when deportation should be pursued.
In essence, Obama created a system for circumventing federal immigration law. It was a loophole that allowed judges to simply stop proceedings if they did not want to see a certain individual deported.
This Obama-era move has contributed to a massive growth of the national deportation case backlog. As Arthur noted in an earlier Washington Examiner op-ed, there were only 300,000 cases in the federal backlog as recently as 2011.
But after Obama took aim at immigration enforcement during the second term of his presidency, the number sky-rocketed to 600,000. With the now-discovered administratively-closed cases, there may have been as many as 800,000 deportations in the backlog.
But the Trump administration has already taken steps to rectify the situation. As the Center for Immigration Studies report states, the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has reversed the practice of administrative closure.
Administrative closure will now be used as originally intended: on a case-by-case basis, not as a blanket method for absolving illegal aliens of their federal immigration crimes. And the DHS is now beginning to reinstate cases that were previously closed.
These changes will expedite the removal of violent criminal aliens, many of whom were set free thanks to Obama’s lax immigration policies. The new strictness on immigration will also discourage foreign nationals from attempting to enter the US illegally through the southern border. Unauthorized border crossing places everyone at risk, including the unlawful entrants.
This was clearly seen in an incident in San Antonio, Texas last month. As Fox News reported, ten undocumented immigrants were found dead in a sweltering truck. Although they could have walked out of the truck to avoid overheating and dehydration, they remained inside to keep from getting caught by the US Border Patrol. The Trump administration seeks to put an end to such tragedies by removing Obama-era incentives for illegal entry.
President Trump is making gains on immigration within the executive branch while being opposed on immigration legislation by leadership within his own party. As covered by CNBC, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), remains committed to the idea that America needs more immigration, not less.
According to Breitbart, Trump has endorsed the RAISE Act, which would raise American wages by cutting legal immigration in half. This and other Trump immigration initiatives are popular with the Republican base, but unpopular with Republican politicians in Congress. It’s a divide that will likely be resolved in the GOP primaries of the 2018 midterms.