President Trump is making greater strides to enforce immigration laws than any recent predecessor, but his apparent willingness to back down in two key areas has allies concerned at the 100-day mark of the Trump presidency.
Trump made immigration enforcement, cracking down on illegal immigration and the construction of a border wall key focal points of his 2016 campaign. Those promises, plus active enforcement, appear to already be having a major impact. Depending upon whom you ask, illegal border crossings are down 40 percent, 61 percent or even 93 percent since Trump took office.
Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian credits the Trump administration for choosing excellent people for key positions at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS.
“The personnel that he’s appointing in a lot of the immigration positions within DHS, not at the top of Homeland Security but the people who actually matter where the rubber meets the road really are outstanding,” Krikorian told WND and Radio America.
He also credited the Trump administration for greater scrutiny of guest worker visas, which Krikorian said makes it tougher for American workers to get jobs.
But it’s with regard to another kind of visa that Krikorian finds his greatest disappointment with Trump, namely the administration’s continuation of the Obama policy of extending work permits to so-called DREAMers, people who came to the U.S. illegally before they turned 16 years old. Obama granted a number of freedoms to that group in an executive order that Krikorian and others believe is tantamount to amnesty.
“He’s kept that going,” Krikorian said. “He hasn’t done anything to change it. He hasn’t even stopped issuing new work permits to illegal immigrants who didn’t have them before, and that’s very disturbing.
“I can see the point of wanting to trade a proper amnesty for these people that Obama basically already amnestied, in exchange for something that he needs from Congress. So I get it as a bargaining chip, but there’s no excuse for expanding the program to more people who were not part of it,” he said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Mark Krikorian:
Krikorian also thinks Trump is making a major mistake by dodging a showdown over border wall funding until later in the year.
“It strikes me as a pre-emptive surrender, and it’s going to embolden both the Democrats and those Republicans like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who are anti-immigration enforcement as well. I think it’s a mistake. I hope I’m proven wrong and it turns out OK in the fall, but I’m not hopeful that’s the way it’s going to turn out,” he said.
Not only does he expect Senate Democrats to threaten another government shutdown whenever Trump makes a push for funding, but he said Trump is wasting time and political capital by waiting until the fall.
“It does need to be a top priority for the president politically in order to get other things done. I actually am really disturbed by this, because it suggests a weakening of the White House’s commitment, despite whatever tweets may come out, and potentially a strengthening of the Chuck Schumer Democrats who are increasingly dominant inside the White House,” said Krikorian, alluding to Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner as an example of that influence.
However, Krikorian is highly supportive of Trump’s efforts to root out sanctuary cities and get localities to cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law. Right now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is threatening to withhold some Justice Department grants for cities that refuse to comply, although a federal judge has blocked that effort for the moment.
Krikorian said the administration has even tougher tactics it could employ to get the city leaders in line.
“Ultimately, they’re going to have to sue these jurisdictions in federal court to get an injunction to get them to stop,” he said.
“And the administration does have the nuclear option, which nobody’s really talked about yet but is still there, which is criminal prosecution of the city council for instance in San Francisco, for knowingly harboring illegal aliens,” Krikorian said.
He admits that option is one the Trump administration should try to avoid, especially given the uncertainty of obtaining convictions. However, Krikorian believes Trump may well win the public relations war over how criminal illegal immigrants ought to be treated.
“Part of that plan is this thing that they had started and they’re going to restart, which is reporting weekly all of the criminal aliens that sanctuary cities let go,” said Krikorian.
He added that the reports would also include any offenses for which those people were arrested after local officials refused to cooperate with the federal government.
“That’s an important part of building the case to weaken the Democrats’ support for sanctuary cities,” he said. “If they play their cards right, that can be more powerful even than filing lawsuits against them, because ultimately it will undermine the political support in these hard left-wing cities among the voters to keep the sanctuary city policy going.”