The head of the U.S. government’s lead immigration enforcement agency said Tuesday that he will send a wave of agents to arrest criminal aliens residing in sanctuary cities, focusing attention on interior operations as illegal crossings at the southern border continue falling.
Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told the Washington Examiner that the Trump administration has empowered law enforcement to strictly enforce immigration laws, a welcome change from previous administrations he has worked under during his 30-year career as an immigration cop.
“Now they have meaning to their jobs,” Homan said, referring to U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents.
“What this president has done is taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing immigration laws.”
Homan noted that, since President Donald Trump took office, illegal border crossings have fallen to their lowest level in a decade. Despite a slight uptick in border arrests — a proxy for illegal immigration — illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border in June were 53 percent lower than in the same month last year, a result Homan attributed to Trump’s orders on immigration enforcement.
“You can like President Trump, not like him, like his policies, not like his policies, but one thing no one can argue with is the effect they’ve had,” Homan told the Washington Examiner.
As fewer illegal immigrants try to cross the southern border, ICE is turning its attention to those who are incarcerated in jails, illegally working jobs and at large in the interior of the country. Homan said immigration agents will target the hundreds of local jurisdictions that either refuse to share information with ICE or ignore the agency’s requests to detain criminal aliens in county jails.
He also argued that sanctuary cities are actually endangering illegal immigrants by forcing ICE agents to track them down in the places where they live or work rather than in jail.
“I’m going to arrest him and anybody else with him because there is no population off the table any more,” Homan said, referring to Trump’s expanded deportation net.
“So if you really want to tap down the fear in the immigrant community, I would think the counties would want me in their jails.”
Trump is Winning the Immigration Debate
With his penchant for tweeted insults and GIFs, Donald Trump will never be mistaken for a master of the sweet art of persuasion. Yet he is clearly winning the public argument on the issue of immigration.
He isn’t doing it through sustained, careful attention. He tweeted the other day that the media will eventually have to cover his success at the border, even though he himself has devoted more energy to his war with CNN than promoting the reduction in illegal border crossings.
No, it is the sheer fact of his November victory, and the data showing the importance of the issue of immigration to it, that has begun to shift the intellectual climate.
It had been assumed, even by many Republicans like Sen. John McCain, that opposition to amnesty and higher levels of legal immigration would doom the GOP to minority status forevermore. Trump blew up this conventional wisdom.
intellectuals opinion makers on the center-left are calling for Democrats to rethink the party’s orthodoxy on immigration, which has become more and more hostile to enforcement and to any skepticism about current high levels of immigration.
In light of the election, Josh Barro of Business Insider, William Galston of the Brookings Institution, Peter Beinart of the Atlantic, Fareed Zakaria of CNN, and Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps, among others, have urged Democrats to re-calibrate.
In an act of heresy for the Davos set, Fareed Zakaria recommends that “the party should take a position on immigration that is less absolutist and recognizes both the cultural and economic costs of large-scale immigration.”
This sentiment wouldn’t be so noteworthy if the Democratic Party hadn’t become so radical on immigration.
Beinart’s Atlantic piece was a trenchant reminder that as recently as 10 years ago the Left allowed much more room for dissent on immigration. Go back a little further, to the 1990s, and Bill Clinton was forthrightly denouncing illegal immigration and liberal giant Barbara Jordan was heading a bipartisan commission that called for enhanced enforcement and reduced levels of legal immigration.
The pull of the left’s cosmopolitanism is strong. In an attack on Beinart, Dylan Matthews of Vox argues that the left’s egalitarianism can’t stop at the nation’s borders—“it means a strong presumption in favor of open immigration.”
So, it’d be a mistake to make too much of the recent spate of articles calling for Democrats to rethink this issue. If Democrats are ever going to shift on immigration, though, elite opinion has to change first, and at least there is now an opening.