Columns

Assessing Trump on Immigration

In this Oct. 22, 2018, photo U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

As we head into the final months of the campaign that will decide our future president, an assessment of President Trump’s performance on immigration policy and border security—which most Republicans and conservatives consider the “ballgame’ issue—is in order.

Why ballgame? If you have to ask, you don’t understand how sovereign nations, not to mention political parties, face an existential threat from unchecked mass immigration, illegal or otherwise.

Volumes will be written on the subject of immigration between now and November 3. In this post I will focus on what I believe to be four core truths that characterize the current status of the immigration situation after three+ years of the Trump administration.  These truths provide evidence that Trump has lived up to his promises as much as can be reasonably expected given the unremitting leftist legal challenges that greet his every move to secure our border and bring sanity to immigration policy.

Citation of these truths is not meant to suggest that I’m ready to settle for the dramatic improvement the county has benefited from since Trump was elected. We have a long way to go toward getting illegal immigration and border security under control. A note on phraseology: surveying the conservative media-sphere, I find that “illegal immigrant” is the parlance used for immigrants whose only crime is illegal entry, while the harsher “criminal illegal” is used for lawbreaking illegal immigrants.

Truth #1: If you are an illegal immigrant who has stayed out of trouble with the law, except for the crime of illegal entry, you’re probably home free. As much as staunch conservative immigration advocates (including the always-outspoken Ann Coulter) may not like it, the chances of such individuals being rounded up and deported are probably nil.

Truth #2: If you are an illegal immigrant who has committed a crime, particularly a serious or violent crime, and don’t live in a sanctuary state or city, your chances of being deported after being brought to justice under American laws have risen markedly with Trump directing policy from the Oval Office.

Truth #3: If you are a criminal illegal and live in a sanctuary jurisdiction (this is the malignancy on Trump’s strategic immigration plan that he is moving to address), your chances of staying out of the hands of federal immigration authorities is much better than for lawbreakers living outside such jurisdictions.

Truth #4: In terms of physical interdiction, a wall is being built. Further, Trump has negotiated with due influence the help of the Mexican government as part of the plan to stanch the flow of illegals. Arrests and detainment of individuals attempting to illegally enter the United States along the southern border have decreased exponentially

Regarding truth #1, most experts, even the most hawkish border security advocates, agree that mass deportation of the millions of illegals currently in the country is simply impossible.  The consensus is that given the societal chaos that would result, it probably shouldn’t be done. They got in, either before Trump or before Trump’s more stringent security measures took effect, and if they stay out of trouble they are probably here to stay.

As regrettable as this reality may be, truth #1 has an incontrovertible and positive connection to truth #2. Trump’s focus on criminal aliens has provided an upside, in that the message has been sent to illegal immigrants that they might want to seriously consider strenuously abiding by the laws of the land. Logically speaking, Trump’s crackdown on criminal illegals should have a deterrent effect on any undocumented individual who may be contemplating criminal activity.

Example: If an illegal immigrant first-time identity-thief offender is arrested, tried, convicted, and given a two-year sentence (under whatever corrections entity) and then slapped with a lifetime deportation edict with severe penalties for reentry, it stands to reason that other individuals contemplating criminal activity will think twice. The resultant deterrent effect should have an impact on illegal immigrant crime rates.

Trump’s effective and long overdue deportation operations against gangs like MS-13 “by the thousands,” can certainly be counted as a clear demonstration of that message.

As stated in truth #3, sanctuary policies, city or state, are the malignancy that prevent Trump’s overarching immigration policies and proposals from firing on all cylinders. Sanctuary status undermines the federal government’s ability to eject criminal alien undesirables from the streets of America. Such policies embolden the criminal element here without documentation, and, in the “just deserts” department, migrate them into more tolerant local jurisdictions. If you’re here illegally and operating a meth lab, where would you rather set up shop, Portland, Oregon, which never met an criminal illegal it failed to attempt to shelter from federal justice, or any town or city in Texas, a state whose ban on sanctuary cities was just upheld by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals?

Consequentially, if you vote for sanctuary-supporting politicians, expect your lamentations about criminal illegal crime rates to fall on deaf ears. Irony alert: sanctuary localities make life more dangerous for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants whose only crime is illegal entry. Trump’s moves to serve notice on patently unconstitutional sanctuary states and cities is among the most positive aspects of his overall approach to immigration policy.

Regarding truth #4, it goes without saying that President Trump’s barrier-building efforts and enlistment of the Mexican government to stop the illegal invasion has a positive consequence beyond just the raw numbers of migrants that have been prevented from entering the U.S. The message is clear for individuals from whatever foreign country who may be contemplating an illegal entry: you may never get in. Trump’s unceremonious takedown of “catch and release” policies is a cornerstone of this new deterrent message.

Recap: President Trump has significantly slowed the rate of illegal entry. He has made clear to criminal illegals, and by the import of his policies, all illegals, that the focus will be on the lawbreakers, the “bad hombres” as he has referred to them. He is working to make life harder and federal monies scarcer for states and municipalities that provide sanctuary havens to the worst of the worst who’ve entered illegally. He is building a wall. He has ended catch and release; just because an immigrant gets over the border doesn’t mean he gets to stay.

You can’t solve a problem decades in the making in one term. Upon reelection, especially if Mr. Trump is bolstered by a Republican House and Senate, he will have more weapons in his arsenal and more latitude in his policymaking. He will be able to take a hard look at the ridiculous tenet of birthright citizenship, crack down on visa overstays, and do to the insane immigrant lottery program what he did to the Paris climate accords.

In summation, however, President Trump has gotten more done to stem the tide of illegal immigration, protect our borders and sovereignty, and subjugate the harbingers of a ruinous globalism, than any president in modern history.

Mark Ellis is the author of A Death on the Horizon, a novel of political upheaval and cultural intrigue. He came aboard at PJ Media in 2015. His literary hangout is Liberty Island. Follow Mark on Twitter.