The New York Times describes 11 million people – those who are living in the country illegally – as sleepless with anxiety, waiting for the “fists pounding on the door, the agents in black, the van ride, the cell.” Who has thrown such fear into this community? How about the Left, aided and abetted by the liberal media, which has purposefully distorted President Trump’s immigration policies, characterizing them erroneously as a radical departure from past practices?
In a feverish blast to donors sent out yesterday, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee claims that “Donald Trump plans to add thousands of immigration agents and begin deporting “almost all” undocumented immigrants.”
That is, excuse the expression, fake news. Trump is doing no such thing. In fact, he recently hinted that he would most likely abide by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allowing the 740,000 people covered by that initiative to stay in the country. In addition, the new guidelines rolled out by Homeland Security indicate that people who have lived in the country for two years or more will not be vulnerable to “expedited removal.” Trump has also made it clear that he would prioritize deporting criminals.
The hysteria over recent ICE operations is a great example of how Trump’s policies are being misrepresented. Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 680 individuals, “stoking fears that the Trump administration is increasing the arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants,” as The Times reported.
Another news organization proclaimed that “Panic” and “terror” is…running through immigrant communities in the US following raids carried out across at least six states as part of Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on illegal immigrants.”
But the head of ICE in LA said, "These operations take weeks and sometimes months of planning, so this operation was in the planning stages before the current administration came out with the executive orders." In other words, the raids had nothing to do with Trump.
Instead, they were a continuation of Obama’s deportation program. It turns out that in 2009, ICE arrested on average 675 people per week. Under Obama, that figure rose to a weekly 771, after which the numbers began to taper off.
But a Government Accountability Office study shows that during fiscal years 2013 through 2015, “Border Patrol recorded a total of 2.1 million estimated known illegal entries between ports of entry along the southwest border.” The study was part of a GAO report on border fencing and security.
How is Trump actually changing Obama’s approach?
It is hard to document since Obama’s policies varied depending on how aggressively he was wooing Hispanic voters. Remember that Obama was called the “Deporter in Chief” by La Raza because his administration threw people out of the country at an unprecedented rate. As the LA Times noted last fall, “Since taking office in 2009, Obama has expelled 2.5 million people, more than any other president.”
One supposed change highlighted by The New York Times yesterday is that under the new rules from Homeland Security, “anyone convicted of any criminal offense is vulnerable to deportation.” Under Obama, they claim, only “undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes were the priority for removal.” But a study by the paper’s own reporters of some 3.2 million deportations shows that to be false.
Writing in 2014, the paper stated, “Since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.”
The executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy group, said in 2014: “For years, the Obama administration’s spin has been that they are simply deporting so-called ‘criminal aliens,’ but…In truth, this administration — more than any other — has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones, simply because they drove without a license, or re-entered the country, desperately trying to be reunited with their family members.”
A former Homeland Security official said at the time, “It would have been better for the administration to state its enforcement intentions clearly and stand by them, rather than being willing to lean whichever way seemed politically expedient at any given moment.”
That is of course what the Trump White House is doing. One such “enforcement intention” is ending Obama’s “catch and release” program, in which illegals apprehended at the border are free to stay in the U.S. and told to appear in court at a later date for a review of their circumstances. Most people fail to show for their appointed hearing; instead, they disappear into the shadows.
Also, among those denied entry to the U.S., Trump’s order mandates repatriation back to their home countries. The administration thinks this is the best way to cut down on people arriving in the U.S. Send them home; others will get the message. The Obama administration also took that approach, when dealing with the surge in Central American refugees, but abandoned it in the face of criticism.
Trump wants to add more border agents and more judges to expedite hearings and better manage the chaotic flow across our border. He calls on those officials to comply with the law – for example, to “end the abuse of parole and asylum provisions currently used to prevent the lawful removal of removable aliens.”
Mostly, Trump wants to tighten up enforcement of existing rules, a position the Left has found to be valuable fodder for their campaign to discredit the new president. Guadalupe Garcia de Reyos, a mother of two convicted of using a fake Social Security number who was recently deported after 8 years in the U.S. has become the poster child of the inhumanity of the Trump White House. Eleven-year-old Arlette Rocha, who hanged herself in 2010 because Obama’s team deported her father, is long forgotten.
These are real people with tragic stories; Americans are sympathetic. But they are also unhappy that our borders are porous. In fiscal 2016, border agents apprehended 409,000 illegals at the southern border alone. Brandon Judd, head of the National Border Control Council, claims that for every person caught, another gets into the country. If that is the case, in one year we have nearly half a million people who come in without proper papers. That is not the way a rule of law nation is supposed to function.