Trump has more leverage on the border issue than he thinks

· May 31, 2018  
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Trump speaks at bipartisan immigration meeting
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

No border wall or any other immigration enforcement policy can stop the effects of national suicide. We are being told by this administration that unless Congress acts, there is nothing the administration can do to stop the crisis of Central American teens creating a smuggling economy for drugs, sex trafficking, and MS-13. If that is the case, then we’ve already lost our sovereignty, and no act of Congress can rectify this insanity.

The controversy began when CNN accused the DHS and the HHS of losing track of 1,475 unaccompanied alien children in this country – as if they were somehow lost in a desert desperate for food and diapers. The reality is that they were resettled with illegal alien parents or other relatives. They are only “lost” in the sense that the government lost control over them in order to deport them, and they are now free to join MS-13 and terrorize our families.

These are not unaccompanied trafficking victims; they are self-smuggled

Naturally, the DHS and the HHS were defensive about the accusation and put out a press release lamenting how “No good deed goes unpunished.” They noted how rather than losing them in some dangerous setting, all of the 7,000+ aliens were resettled with “their sponsors—who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them.” It’s just that 1,467 of them never returned their calls following up to ask how nice their stay in America has been.

The problem is that this statement is an indictment of administration policy. Now that they admit the UACs were all placed with family members, by definition, they are not eligible for refugee resettlement and must be deported. As we noted before, UAC refugee status is only conferred on an alien under 18 who A) was a victim of a “severe form of trafficking” and B) doesn’t have a parent or guardian present in the country. In this case, they indeed have parents in the country who are also illegal and are self-trafficking their own kids and helping the drug cartels make a killing and continue bringing in drugs and gangs. They are the very perpetrators who served as the impetus for the original anti-trafficking law, not the victims of it. The parents and the teenagers must all be deported.

As Judge Andrew Hanen warned right as the drug crisis was ramping up in 2013, “By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the government is not only allowing them to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels but is also inspiring them to do so.” This is why Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said from his experience on the border that “until we shut illegal immigration down, we will not be able to put a stop to illegal drug smuggling once and for all.”

While members of Congress are virtue-signaling over “separating immigrant families,” what about separating American families – permanently – through the drug and MS-13 crisis created by these very incentives? Fox News reported last week that the MS-13 gangbanger who burned a Texas man a live last year was an unaccompanied “dreamer” who came in during the border surge under Obama. Only five of the 7,635 UACs who were placed with family members between October and December of last year have been deported. Just five!

The truth about presidential power over immigration

The president ordered the DHS during the first week of his administration not to refer UACs to the Office of Refugee Resettlement unless they properly fit the definition of the statute. Why has this policy not been implemented? Why is the administration continuing Obama’s catch-and-release policies at a time of a drug and gang crisis when we have statutes to prevent this? There are too many people in the White House convincing the president of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s position – that the president is compelled by law or the courts to bring in all asylum and UAC applicants. That is simply not true. As we’ve noted before, the president always has the prerogative to block the entry of anyone, particularly at a time of such grave national security concerns related principally to these teenagers and the economy of organized crime and drugs at the border. This is inherent in the president’s Article II powers as well as delegated authority under Sec. 212f of the INA. This would be true even if the UAC statute required self-smuggled aliens to be released, which it does not.


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Lawyers in the White House are telling Trump that he’s bound by the courts to open our doors to any bogus asylum claim and release them pending the outcome. But why not at least try to implement the law as written rather than pre-emptively surrendering to the Ninth Circuit? Moreover, if the crux of the administration’s argument for continuing Obama’s policies and for saying the president can’t do anything unless Congress changes the law is the judicial supremacy, why is judicial reform not at the top of the list of demands for Congress? Why is the administration not championing Louie Gohmert’ s bill, which strips the courts of power over immigration? The administration can’t have it both ways.

Which brings me to sanctuary cities, another issue on which the courts are violating the law. McClatchy reported yesterday that DHS Secretary Nielsen is continuing to award DHS grants to cities that violate immigration law and serve as a magnet for drugs and MS-13. Again, administration officials blame this on the courts, but the court case dealt with Department of Justice grants which might be regarded as more extraneous to compliance with immigration law than DHS grants.

“It is astonishing that Secretary Nielsen would totally ignore one of President Trump’s crucial agenda items and give DHS grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with her own law enforcement officers,” said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for Numbers USA. “There is no federal agency whose mission is more directly threatened by sanctuary policies than Immigration and Customs Enforcement so I can only imagine how disheartened ICE officers are by her decision.”

Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, told me how in light of “the effect of sanctuary laws on the safety and sovereignty of this country,” Trump and the American people “have a right to know why those policies are not being implemented at Homeland Security.”

We need the president’s North Korea tactics on immigration

What is even more astounding is that the administration never even demanded that appropriators defund sanctuary cities in the upcoming “minibus” series of appropriation bills. “Immigration groups following the issue say the administration never asked Congress to exclude sanctuary cities,” reports McClatchy.

If the administration is going to contend that its hands are tied, at least use the leverage of the veto pen to make the proper demands. The only legislation that will pass is liberal pro-amnesty legislation. Therefore, attaching immigration priorities to the budget bills has always been the only way to leverage the president’s border priorities. Trump needs to threaten to veto any budget bill that doesn’t fix the loopholes, defund sanctuary cities, and strip the courts of power over immigration. He needs to negotiate with Congress the way he negotiates with North Korea. Don’t look desperate for Congress to give you something; use your existing powers to shut down our borders and threaten the veto pen to leverage the rest of the priorities, such as wall funding, judicial reform, and sanctuary cities.

From speaking to several border hawks both in the administration and outside it, I’ve heard a consistent frustration that there is nobody in the room with the president who actually understands immigration law and shares the president’s view on the issue. The administration has not even been asserting its true powers over border security in any of the court cases. As I noted during the abortion chain migration case, one dissenting judge actually criticized the administration for not even arguing the extent of its own powers over immigration.

Trump could shut down the points of entry today and force Mexico to deal with the problem. As Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies told CR, “The administration needs to think about what else it can do differently, within its authority. That could include redirecting migrants to Mexican authorities, or requiring most so-called asylum seekers to us embassies in Mexico, or possibly expediting the processing of the most dubious cases.”

If all these bogus asylum-seekers were stuck in Mexico, you can bet your bottom dollar Mexico would secure its southern border and cooperate with us very quickly.

The current executive branch strategy, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster. The administration is meeting behind closed doors almost exclusively with the “MS-13 caucus” to forge an amnesty deal in return for some border wall funding. It’s all based on the premise that the president can’t do anything unilaterally and has no veto power. But if the president won’t assert his own authority at the points of entry, leverage the veto threat, and sideline the lower courts, the wall will be essentially useless because illegals will knock on our front door, get admitted, and have the courts take care of the rest.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.