When Donald Trump formally announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, he made combating illegal immigration a central theme, famously promising to “build a great wall.”
His vow to clean up the system and enforce existing immigration laws prompted the National ICE Council, which represents the nation’s immigration-enforcement officers, to give him their endorsement, the first time the council endorsed a presidential candidate.
But now the same group has set up a website to declare to the president and the nation that he has “betrayed” them, the Washington Times reported.
Trump, the officers charge, has left in place Obama officials who are thwarting the new president’s objective of enforcing immigration laws.
“ICE Officers grudgingly admit that the only President they ever endorsed hasn’t kept his word, and many officers now feel betrayed,” the officers state on the website.
The website points out, for example, that ICE supervisors in Philadelphia banned officers from wearing bulletproof vests during an operation in a dangerous section of the city for fear of offending the immigrant community. The website also notes that officers in one Utah city are required to give city officials seven days’ warning before arresting anyone.
One Obama official with significant authority is Simon Henshaw, who is running the refugee program. A career officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, Henshaw is currently serving as principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Meanwhile, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has released a new report concluding that the Mexican cartels’ influence in the United State is far-reaching, affecting cities hundreds of miles from the state’s border with Mexico, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment says the cartels smuggle more drugs into the U.S. than any other criminal group.
‘Stabbed in the back’
In an open letter to Trump posted on the new website, National ICE Council President Chris Crane said his officers feel they’ve been “stab[bed] in the back” by the administration, the Times said.
Crane said he gives Trump the benefit of the doubt but believes there are people in the president’s circle shielding him from the problems
“While officers view the President’s position on enforcement as courageous, the Trump administration has left all of the Obama managers and leadership in place, a group that ICE Officers know after the last eight years to be completely incompetent, corrupt and anti-enforcement,” Crane wrote.
Crane said Trump has created an uptick in morale at ICE through his support of enforcement operations, but “tensions are on the rise between Trump’s army of Obama holdovers and boots on the ground officers in the field, as behind the scenes Obama holdovers continue to undermine law enforcement operations and wage war against their own law enforcement officers.”
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment, the Times said.
Amid the concerns, the Trump administration has boasted of success in curbing illegal immigration, as documented in WND’s “Big List” of Trump accomplishments.
Shortly after taking office in January, Trump immediately expanded deportation priorities, signing an executive order that includes people who “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” which could include anyone who entered the country illegally, leading to a significant increase in arrests
ICE arrested an average of 13,085 people each month from February through June, in contrast to an average of 9,134 arrests per month during the last three months of the Obama administration.
The administration announced illegal border crossings had decreased by 40 percent in the first month of Trump’s presidency. By Trump’s 100th day in office, crossings had decreased by 73 percent.
- The DOJ resumed the criminal prosecution of first-time illegal border crossers after it had been stopped by the Obama administration.
- In May, the administration said the number of child illegal immigrants entering the nation monthly had fallen below 1,000 for the first time in several years.
- DHS in August ended the Central American Minors Parole Program that had allowed certain minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to enter the U.S.
- A report in August said that due to reforms and additional hirings of immigration judges, the number of deportation orders increased by nearly 28 percent compared to the same period of time in 2016.
- In March and April, the DOJ announced plans to speed up the deportation of imprisoned illegal aliens, instructing U.S. attorneys to employ stricter guidelines in the prosecution of immigration crimes while seeking to hire 125 immigration judges in the next two years.
- Trump signed an executive order cutting funding for sanctuary cities, and despite encountering opposition from city officials, ICE agents have been enforcing U.S. immigration laws in those cities.
- Trump’s Department of Homeland Security canceled the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program created by the Obama administration in November 2014 that would have given amnesty to about 4 million illegal immigrants.
- Trump rescinded Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, which gave de facto amnesty to some 800,000 people who came to the country as children with their illegal-alien parents. Trump delayed implementing his order for six months to give Congress time to come up with a legislative solution.
- In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, arrests and deportations of criminal aliens such as MS-13 members were up 38 percent compared with the last year of the Obama administration.
- ICE conducted a crackdown on the gangs that resulted in the arrests of nearly 1,400 people.
- The Trump administration also cooperated with Central American countries to combat MS-13 recruitment in the region. An estimated 6,000 MS-13 gang members were arrested during the president’s first five months.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in August denied requests from employers to import cheap foreign labor into the U.S. for high-skilled jobs if the employers could not explain why they wanted to pay a lower wage for such work.
Help on the way
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the United States is on the verge of reversing an immigration court backlog of about 600,000 cases, Lifezette reported.
Sessions said, however, that help is on the way, with the addition of 50 immigration judges since Trump took office, and an additional 360 to 370 expected to be appointed.
By January, the attorney general said, “we will not be adding to the backlog but hopefully reducing it.”
“That would be a real change in the trends that we were heading on,” Sessions said.
The Obama administration, the Times noted, put more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants off limits for deportation. Trump officials lifted the restrictions but left in place the directive that criminals, national security threats and repeat immigration violators be given top priority.
‘We have turned a corner’
A former immigration judge who now is director of law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, Andrew Arthur, said he believes a combination of increased staffing and fewer border crossings has the department on the right track.
“We have turned a corner,” he told LifeZette. “We may see a slight increase, but we are going to level off and start to see a decline.”
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told LifeZette that the Obama administration signaled to people trying to cross the border without permission that they could stay if they uttered the phrase “credible fear” to border agents.
“That was available to get you through the door and what happens, happens later — if it happens at all,” he said.
Sessions, in his House testimony, called on Congress to narrow the criteria by which credible fear claims are judged. Doing so could have “a very substantial impact,” he said.