National Priorities: Immigration Enforcement and Border Security

COMMENTARY Immigration

National Priorities: Immigration Enforcement and Border Security

Jan 26th, 2017 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Tommy Binion

Director, Congressional and Executive Branch Relations

Thomas is responsible for Heritage's many programs on Capitol Hill and its engagement with the administration.
A United States Customs and Border Protection officer walks with a working police dog at the San Ysidro Port of Entry border crossing in San Diego, California Newscom

President Trump began fulfilling campaign promises this week to build a wall and tighten immigration restrictions.  U.S. immigration policy will see radical change as the wall is built, the border is secured, and enforcement efforts are increased.

The actions are so swift and decisive that they give the illusion he is acting unilaterally. On the contrary, while the reality of immigration policy is affected, the law will not change. Every bit of yesterday’s executive orders is pursuant to laws that received overwhelming bipartisan support and remain on the books.

The Immigration and Nationality Act, the Secure Fence Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act are all specifically referenced by the order. Each of those bills received broad, bi-partisan support within Congress and a Presidential signature. None of them were fully enforced. That fact is in part to blame for our present immigration crisis.

 Yesterday, President Trump began the process of reversing that course and securing our border. 

The result of the 2016 election made it clear that the American people want immigration laws to be enforced. Dating back decades, border security has been a priority of the Congress and yet routine failure and crisis have been practically the only results. Now, thanks to yesterday’s executive order, the laws on the books will finally be enforced.

Beyond campaign rhetoric, immigration enforcement and border security are national priorities. Illegal immigration receives most of the news coverage. However, border security is a much broader concern because a porous border drives human trafficking, drug and gun smuggling, and brutal gang violence both within the U.S. and in Mexico and in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Sadly, the United States does not currently have operational control of its southern border. Many of the provisions contained in the executive orders are important first steps towards gaining operational control. Increased border patrol agents, a physical barrier, new facilities, ending the “catch and release” policy, cooperation with local law enforcement, and access to all federal lands are necessary steps, and will without a doubt increase the security of our southern border and our national security.

Border security is the subject of near universal agreement. President Trump’s executive orders are neither partisan, nor political. They are not campaign rhetoric. They are action. They are in the national interest. They are pursuant to the law. They will make us safer.