A prominent immigration reform group held a press conference recently following the election of Republican Donald Trump to offer real, practical ways to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who are currently hiding out in the United States. The concern is that Trump will backpedal and not stick to his guns and enforce immigration laws in the U.S.
By Mark Anderson
The Federation for American Immigration Reform held a program Nov. 29 at the esteemed National Press Club in Washington to offer its outlook on how President-elect Donald Trump might proceed to secure the border, starting during his first 100 days.
FAIR issued an advance press release which noted that—with staunch border security advocate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) at the top of Trump’s list of attorney general nominees—there is reasonable optimism that Trump can make good on his pledge.
FAIR prepared “a step-by-step transition document” that highlights the immigration goals of the Washington-based advocacy group, developed to help Trump “hit the ground running” after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
“The document includes suggestions for overhauling the legal immigration process, addressing illegal immigration, enforcement of laws in the interior of the country, and refugee policy and national security,” FAIR spokeswoman Cassie Williams told AFP before the NPC event.
A prepared statement from FAIR shared at the press conference noted:
After eight years of the Obama administration dismantling our immigration laws, it is imperative that the next president make it a priority to reverse the damage done by a rogue administration. During his two terms in office, President Obama made it clear that he did not feel bound to enforce immigration laws as enacted by Congress.
[H]e eroded public confidence in the willingness of the Executive Branch to carry out the terms of immigration law. Attacks on federal-state-local cooperation and the assertion of broad discretionary authority to grant de facto amnesty to large classes of illegal aliens made it impossible for the government to retain any credibility regarding the rule of law and its effective execution.”
Thus, FAIR says, the U.S. will not succeed in controlling its borders “until elected officials realize that immigration policies must align with America’s national interests. Otherwise they will not protect the economic, social, and security interests of the American people.”
Some of FAIR’s most essential points, coupled with solutions, include building a physical barrier such as a wall. Fences, while they cannot guarantee security, “are an integral tool for securing borders.”
In 2006, Congress acknowledged this when it approved the Secure Fence Act, calling for building a 700-mile physical barrier along the Mexican border. “This project remains unfinished . . . . The southern border remains the single largest weakness in United States border control efforts.”
But the northern border, which is rarely discussed in terms of security, must not be overlooked. Thus, FAIR representatives at the NPC program noted:
“Our border with Canada is the longest shared border in the world totaling 5,525 miles. Currently, only 3,700 Border Patrol officers are stationed along this border, with unmanned aerial vehicles monitoring only 1,150 miles, or less than one-fifth of it.”
Interestingly, about “300,000 people and $1.5 billion in trade cross the U.S.-Canadian border every day. America and Canada have long engaged in complementary border control efforts. However, recent increases in global conflict and the spread of terrorism make it imperative to remain vigilant that third-country foreign nationals do not exploit the northern border in an attempt to enter the United States undetected.”
Among other proposals, FAIR strongly recommends that the U.S. end all “catch and release” policies by expanding Department of Homeland Security detention facilities and bring the current “catch and release” policy to a halt.
“This misguided policy has turned immigration enforcement into an expensive farce,” FAIR summarized. “The DHS must detain any alien who is either caught crossing the border or apprehended while unlawfully present in the United States, especially those suspected of criminal offenses.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.