Trump’s Immigration Plan: A View From The Trenches
November 14, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Unless he has a magical way of dealing with the logistics, the President-Elect’s 10 point-plan for immigration policy is either pie in the sky or more of the same. PolitiFact has reported on Trump’s plan (there’s something about the number 10 that always sounds official). Let’s break it down.
- Build an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border” that he says Mexico will pay for. The U.S. already has a wall, and the reason most get through it is not because it is penetrable. Any old set of ladders will do. Unbeknownst to some, in 2006 Dubya embarked on a mission to construct hundreds of miles of fencing across the border. As for Mexico paying for it, the answer to that has always been a hard no.
- End “catch-and-release.” If anyone is caught illegally crossing the border, that person will be detained until deported. Language always matters, and it determines how people will be treated, so for now, forget the fact that immigration deals with human beings and not fish. Immigration jails are already bursting at the seams, in part because Obama did one hell of a job in locking up immigrants. Denying CBP/ICE officers the discretion on who to detain will further clog the immigration jails, and any suggestion to criminally prosecute all those that are caught will overburden the federal criminal system.
- Deport immigrants in the country illegally convicted of crimes. See number two. Even low-level offenders — despite very limited resources — have been banished in record numbers by the previous administration.
- End sanctuary cities (cities where local law enforcement officers aren’t required to alert federal authorities to people in the country illegally). That has already been attempted, and local authorities began reneging on their promise to hold people without papers when: (i) ICE took forever to pick up those without papers in local jails, and thus: (ii) holding them for so long drained the local coffers and so they said to hell with it, no mas.
- End Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and triple the number of U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Taking away DACA and DAPA will only prevent people from lingering in immigration purgatory: DACA & DAPA only temporarily allow applicants to steer clear of being placed in deportation proceedings. There is no pathway to legal residency, so those people stay in limbo. From limbo, they will go to immigration court, where the dockets already have a serious backlog. If Trump wants to remove “dangerous” criminals, eliminating DACA and DAPA will further hamstring the resources of the DHS Office of the Chief Counsel.
- Suspend issuance of visas to people in places where “adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.” Such screening already exists, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees screen and select those very few (about one percent) who qualify as “refugees,” and then the feds do their additional vetting before someone is let in the country. Even those who used to be exempt from visa requirements have had their privileges suspended due to recent developments in the Middle East.
- Make sure countries take back their own citizens when the United State orders them deported. Not going to happen, ever. Unless the U.S. plans to do some kind of Operation Dumbo Drop en masse, if “they” don’t want to take back our “illegals,” there’s not much left to do. Case in point: Cuba. There are many, many Cuban citizens with serious criminal records who remain stateside with an order of supervision, or OSUP (a sort of informal probation), because Cuba will not take them back. This has been going on for decades, and it’s nothing new for those in the trenches.
- Fully implement at all land, air and sea ports a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system. That system, which sounds very blitzkrieg-y, is already in place. If Trump means that he will begin to place visa overstays in deportation proceedings, best of luck. See point number two, and tread carefully.
- “Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet” that attract immigrants who come to the United States illegally. This one doesn’t make sense. No one gets jobs or benefits if they were not admitted or paroled into the U.S., unless they are those who are willing to do crappy jobs for little pay with the constant threat of being reported to the authorities.
- Reform legal immigration and keep it “within historic norms,” to serve the best interests of America and its workers. America’s immigration system is already calibrated to serve the nation’s best interest, the world’s poor and huddled masses be damned. Save for those few who can afford counsel and win their asylum case, the rest are not allowed in unless they stand to benefit the country and they clear the bars to admission for criminal conduct (not conviction).
So for now, put aside the panic button when it comes to Trump’s immigration “plan.” And enjoy the irony: “progressive” Presidents Obama and Clinton did more to kick out the undocumented than their more conservative brethren could ever dream of. As for what could seriously hamstring someone to defend themselves in immigration court, there is one thing that President Trump could do. But I ain’t telling. Come waterboard me, bro.