President Donald Trump is doing something incredibly rare for a politician in Washington, D.C. He is keeping his word. Two of the most important of his campaign promises were to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into this country and to suspend the admission of “refugees” from countries prone to terrorism until a system of “extreme vetting” is put into place. On Tuesday night, President Trump tweeted out a teaser: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”
After eight long years of Obama administration policies that endangered the security of the American people, President Trump is placing Americans first -- before illegal aliens and self-declared “refugees” from terrorist prone countries.
The president began fulfilling his promises on immigration by signing two executive orders on Wednesday at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose responsibilities include overseeing immigration and border security. Mr. Trump also took part in a ceremony installing his new Secretary of Homeland Security, retired Marine General John Kelly. In his remarks following the signing, President Trump emphasized that DHS is a “law enforcement agency.” He added that “beginning today, the United States gets back control of its borders.”
The first executive order he signed redirected funds already appropriated by Congress towards paying for the construction of the border wall he has promised between Mexico and the United States. Additional funding appropriations will be required from Congress for completion of the project. However, President Trump still intends that Mexico will ultimately reimburse U.S. taxpayers for the expenditures through one means or another, including possibly redirecting monies presently slotted for foreign aid to Mexico or using revenue from border taxes. President Trump’s action came on the same day that Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, was due to arrive in Washington to help prepare for the visit of Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto later this month.
The order would end the “catch-and-release” policies the Obama administration utilized, under which illegals awaiting removal hearings were released. More detention facilities along the border are planned for construction. According to Immigration and Custom Enforcement figures cited by Fox News, 179,040 of the 925,193 illegal immigrants who have evaded a scheduled deportation had criminal convictions.
The Trump administration is anticipating roadblocks put in its way by legal challenges, including activists’ exploitation of environmental laws to block construction of the wall. However, the administration should be able to prevail and move forward expeditiously. The REAL ID Act of 2005 gives the Secretary of Homeland Security “the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads” along U.S. borders. Federal district courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear challenges to the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination, but a “cause of action or claim may only be brought alleging a violation of the Constitution of the United States.” Melinda Taylor, an environmental law professor with the University of Texas, said, "The new administration has a wild card they can pull and it's in this law. The language in this law allows them to waive all federal laws that would be an impediment to building any type of physical barrier along the border, including a wall." Actually, “the authority to waive all legal requirements” in the statute would extend to state and local laws and regulations, as well as federal laws. The president’s constitutional authority derives from his fundamental constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” – in this case, the nation’s existing immigration laws.
President Trump signed a second executive order addressing the so-called “sanctuary cities,” which have been openly defying federal immigration law enforcement. They may face the loss of certain federal funding if they continue their 21st century version of segregationist Governor George Wallace’s "stand in the schoolhouse door" in opposition to federally mandated school desegregation.
The orders also call for beefing up the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents used to apprehend migrants at the border and to arrest and deport illegal immigrants already living in the United States. The priority will be to identify for deportation illegal aliens in this country with a criminal record and to provide the State Department with additional tools to pressure countries to take back illegal immigrant criminals whom originally came from those countries.
Notably, neither immigration executive order sought to penalize the so-called “Dreamers.” President Trump has not yet rescinded Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action. President Trump made his priorities clear in his DHS remarks, declaring “we’re going to get the bad ones out.” To put a human face on what he intended to accomplish, President Trump took time out during his remarks at DHS to recognize several parents who have had to endure the grief over their children killed by illegal immigrants. “They will always be remembered,” he said.
In his DHS remarks, President Trump also mentioned how he planned coordination and partnership with Mexico to save lives on both sides of the border. He said that the wall and actions to break up the drug cartels would help keep drugs and guns from flowing between the United States and Mexico. What a relief from the days of Operation Fast and Furious, when the Obama administration’s botched gunrunning sting allowed guns into Mexico that the Obama administration lost track of. U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry may well have been killed by one of those guns.
In addition to the immigration executive orders, President Trump is planning later in the week to sign an executive order drastically reducing the number of refugees overall who are admitted to the United States for resettlement. It would also suspend the admission of refugees from “terrorist prone” countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, pending the institution of an effective “extreme vetting” process. Procedures for granting visas to residents from those countries will also be carefully re-examined. While leftists and other pro-Islamists will undoubtedly cry foul and may go to court in an effort to overturn this executive order as allegedly discriminating against Muslims on religious grounds, President Trump’s action is well within his legal authority. Refugees and visitors from other countries deemed dangerous by the president acting in his capacity as commander in chief should not have a constitutional right to enter the United States anyway.
"From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights," said Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration and currently a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Legomsky went on to say that he disagreed with President Trump’s planned suspension action from a public policy perspective “because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.” However, the Obama administration in which he served was discriminatory in its own “humanitarian” outreach to self-declared “refugees.” It virtually ignored the truly persecuted Christian minority populationseeking an escape from genocide, and favored instead the one group of migrants from the Middle East who needed refugee protection the least– Sunni Muslims. Moreover, the Obama administration had no vetting procedures in place to ensure that some of these Sunni Muslims were not bringing their Wahhabi jihadist ideology with them.
Former President Obama put Americans’ lives in danger by his ill-advised immigration and refugee policies. He also released scores of suspected terrorists from Guantanamo Bay despite at least a 30 percent recidivist rate. President Trump, by contrast, is showing that he means what he says in making the protection of the American people his first priority.