Enforcing Trump’s immigration plan will be harder than he thinks
Trump inherited a number of immigration enforcement problems from the Obama administration, the most serious of which was an immigration court backlog that has prevented him from using removal proceedings to reduce the size of the undocumented alien population.
His solution seems to be to heed the advice of Mitt Romney, who said, when asked about reducing the population of undocumented aliens during a debate in 2012:
“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.”
But Trump is using harboring prosecutions to discourage people from helping undocumented aliens to remain here illegally in addition to enforcing employer sanctions to discourage employers from giving them jobs.
Neither is likely to be successful.
Most of the pending cases are for undocumented aliens who were taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) near the border after making an entry without inspection or at a Port of Entry when they requested an asylum hearing.
Deporting the aliens in this group who do not establish eligibility for relief from deportation will prevent them from increasing the undocumented alien population, but it won’t reduce the size of that population. That requires removal of aliens who are living in the United States, i.e., interior enforcement, which is handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
But the backlog has made it difficult to get removal hearings for the undocumented aliens ICE arrests, which has resulted in fewer and fewer arrests.
ICE deportations have dropped by almost 50 percent in the last five years, and Trump has not been able to reverse this trend.
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