Posted tagged ‘Trump and U.S. Southern Border’

FULL MEASURE: September 17, 2017 – The Wall

September 18, 2017

FULL MEASURE: September 17, 2017 – The Wall via YouTube, September 18, 2017

 

The blurb beneath the video states,

One of the first things President Trump did in office was to sign an executive order on January 25th to begin building the border wall. But a new wall between the U.S. and Mexico remains both myth and metaphor because to date there’s no funding to pay for it. We went down to the border between Texas and Mexico to hear how people there feel.

Byron York: While other controversies rage, work on border wall moves forward

May 30, 2017

Byron York: While other controversies rage, work on border wall moves forward, Washington Examiner, May 29, 2017

(Please see also, FULL MEASURE: May 28, 2017 – Price of Power on how Congress “works.”  — DM)

New revelations come almost by the minute in the Trump-Russia affair. The White House moves into full-defense mode. The Trump agenda stalls on Capitol Hill.

A reasonable observer might conclude that is all that is happening in the Trump administration. But even as those troubles fill news sites and cable TV, administration officials are quietly moving ahead on one of the president’s top campaign promises: the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Although it hasn’t received much attention relative to the president’s many problems, extensive planning for the wall is under way, officials are evaluating specific proposals, sites are being studied, and yes, there is money available to get going.

The work is being done under President Trump’s executive order of Jan. 25, which declared the administration’s policy to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall …” The order went on to set a high standard of effectiveness: “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States” along the border. Finally, the order cited an existing law, the Secure Fence Act, which in 2006 called for the construction of “at least two layers of reinforced fencing” and “additional physical barriers” on up to 700 miles of the 1,954-mile border.

“The executive order calls on the authority in the Secure Fence Act for us to begin immediately,” said a senior administration official who recently provided an extensive update on the state of the wall project. In March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent out a request for proposals for companies to bid on the construction of prototypes — not little models to sit on someone’s desk, but full-scale sections of proposed wall designs that will be put in place on the border. So far, Border Protection has received more than 100 proposals.

“We are evaluating what started out as a solicitation to industry and request for proposals — 18 to 30 feet high, concrete, impenetrable, hard-to-scale, the correct aesthetics,” the official said. “We’ve tried to capture the intent [of the executive order] in the requests for proposals, and those proposals are being evaluated now.”

There are some important points to remember before going any further. First, there is no intention to build a wall to stretch the entire border, from San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas. In his campaign, the president made clear that the wall need not cover every mile of the border. Certainly, no expert who supports more barriers at the border believes it should, either.

And the wall does not always mean a wall. The Jan. 25 executive order defined “wall” as “a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous and impassable physical barrier.” Planners say that in practice, that will certainly mean extensive areas with an actual wall. But other areas might have the type of fencing outlined in the Secure Fence Act, or some other barrier yet to be designed.

And that leads to a third point: The border barrier will not look the same at all points along the border. The terrain of the border is different — some parts are so imposing they don’t need a barrier at all — and officials plan to design walls and barriers that fit each area, rather than one long, unchanging structure.

Right now, officials are studying how many “buildable miles” will need a barrier. Whatever the precise number, it will be big. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security told Congress that, of the 1,954 miles of border, 1,300 miles, or 66.5 percent, have no fencing or barriers at all; 299.8 miles, or 15.3 percent, have vehicle fence; and 316.6 miles, or 16.2 percent, have pedestrian fence. Only 36.3 miles, or 2 percent, have the kind of double-layer fencing required by the Secure Fence Act. (The law was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, but neither Bush nor Congress really wanted to build the fence. So they didn’t.)

“We’ve asked the nine sectors on the Southwest border, if you have to meet the standards in the executive order and the Secure Fence Act, where is it that barriers are required to complete the task?” said the senior administration official. “We’ve then evaluated those areas where the traffic [of illegal border-crossers] is highest.” Planners are considering those factors in light of the executive order’s “prevent all entries” standard — administration officials are taking that edict very seriously — to come up with areas in which a wall would be the best solution, or where some other type of physical barrier would do the job better.

At the moment, planners believe that about 700 “buildable miles” of the border will require a wall or other barrier. That just happens to be about the same amount called for in the Secure Fence Act.

Does the government have that much land available? The answer is mostly yes. Remember, from the numbers cited above, that there are more than 650 miles along the border with something on them — vehicle fence, simple pedestrian fence, whatever. That means the government has already gone through the land acquisition and approval process required to erect a barrier. “It’s federal property now because we’ve either condemned it or purchased it,” said the official.

There’s no doubt that hundreds of miles of truly impenetrable barriers would have a huge effect on illegal border crossings. Talk to some experts who favor tougher border enforcement, and they will say that even as few as 100 well-chosen miles of barrier would make a difference.

In any event, there is a significant amount of border land that is already in government hands. “West of El Paso, a lot of the land is public,” the official noted, while “as you go further east from El Paso towards Brownsville, a lot of that land is private.” Going through the process of condemning or buying land — with all the legal and financial issues involved — will depend “on how we choose the priorities.”

Once planners decide where to build, there will then be the question of what to build. If the decision is to build a wall, then the question is: a wall of what? Planners have decided that concrete will definitely be involved, even though it hasn’t played much of a role in earlier barriers. Why concrete? “It’s an interpretation of the vision,” the senior administration official explained. By “vision,” he meant it is a way to make Trump’s oft-repeated promise of a “big, beautiful wall” a reality. Trump didn’t mean a fence.

On the other hand, using concrete presents one obvious problem. Whatever barrier is built, Border Protection agents on the U.S. side need to be able to see through it. That’s always been a requirement with earlier barriers. So now, officials are looking for creative ideas for a wall that will still allow them full sight of the Mexican side.

That touches on the most important consideration for planners. A wall isn’t just a wall. It is a system — a “smart wall,” as they call it. It involves building a barrier with the monitoring technology to allow U.S. officials to be aware of people approaching; to be able to track them at all times; to have roads to move people around; the facilities to deal with the people who are apprehended; and more. “It’s not just a barrier,” noted the official. (Last year, with the Obama administration still in office, a number of Border Protection officials traveled to Israel to study that country’s highly effective barriers; they came home big believers in a smart wall.)

At this point, it’s impossible to say what building a smart wall will cost, because officials haven’t yet decided on a plan. But how much money does the administration have to get started now? Begin with money that was already to available to the Department of Homeland Security.

“Congress gave us a re-programming for money we were planning to do other things with — mostly technology — to get us through this request for proposals and to get the prototypes underway immediately,” the senior administration official said. “That has happened already. We found $20 million to get that effort underway.”

“Then, the 2017 budget resolution gives us substantial money to continue doing real estate and environmental planning and design, and then replace some fencing,” he continued. “That’s in the neighborhood of $900 million.”

“You won’t get a lot of new fence for that,” the official conceded. “You’ll get some upgrades. But you’ll get some behind-the-scenes work underway — engineering, design, real estate acquisition, title searches, the kinds of things that have to happen to make it work.”

That is a start. Republicans on the Hill argue that they got as much money in the recent spending bill as they could for the project, given that they had to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government through Sept. 30. “We weren’t going to get anything passed that said, quote-unquote, ‘wall,'” noted one GOP staffer.

The next funding hurdle will come when Congress considers spending for 2018. Most House and Senate Democrats appear determined to stop a border barrier. They say it will be expensive and ineffective, while some Republicans believe Democrats oppose the wall mainly because they fear it will work.

After the recent spending bill passed, some opponents of the wall declared the project dead. (Sample headline: Vanity Fair’s “How Trump’s Wall Failure Will Forever Doom His Presidency.”) But any victory dance right now is premature. Yes, it’s certainly possible the wall won’t be built. But it’s also possible it will be built, or that significant parts of it will be built. The work is already under way.

Full Measure: 04/02/2017 B Block

April 4, 2017

Full Measure: 04/02/2017 B Block via YouTube, April 3, 2017

(The need for better vetting in hiring substantial numbers of Border Patrol agents. President Trump has said he plans to hire 5,000. – DM)

 

Mexican Standoff

January 27, 2017

Mexican Standoff, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, January 27, 2017

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Although left-wingers have been whipping themselves into a frenzy daily, characterizing President Trump’s approach to border security as monstrous and Hitlerian, Mexico’s approach to dealing with unwanted visitors on its soil is draconian compared to America’s.

Mexican law makes it a felony to be present without permission anywhere in that country. Political activism by illegals is forbidden. Those who use fake documents to enter Mexico are jailed or deported and those who assist them are also jailed.

Mexican immigration policy is based on Mexican self-interest. Only foreigners deemed useful to Mexico are allowed in “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Immigrants to Mexico must be able to support themselves and their dependents.

Foreigners may be denied entry to Mexico if their presence is thought to: disturb “the equilibrium of the national demographics”; be detrimental to “economic or national interests”; if they have violated Mexican laws; or if they are determined not to be “physically or mentally healthy.”

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Blasting President Donald Trump for his Twitter-based demands that Mexico free up the pesos needed to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, President Enrique Peña Nieto abruptly pulled out of a planned summit with Trump.

Answering Trump in kind, the Mexican head of state tweeted midday Thursday in Spanish, “We have informed the White House that I will not attend the working meeting planned for next Tuesday with @POTUS[.]”

The previous night Peña Nieto had reiterated his government’s opposition both to the wall and to his country paying for it. “I regret and reject the decision of the United States to continue building a wall that, far from uniting, divides us,” he tweeted according to an apparently reliable English translation.

In an unprecedented round of refreshingly transparent social media diplomacy, Trump, the master negotiator, published two tweets baiting his Mexican counterpart:

The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.

Peña Nieto, who is deeply unpopular in his homeland, accepted Trump’s invitation to withdraw from the Jan. 31 summit. He had come under intense pressure in his country to cancel the meeting.

And on Wednesday as Mexico’s foreign minister was reportedly in the White House trying to patch up relations between the two countries, Trump signed an executive order moving forward with construction of the wall.

A labor leader might say Trump was bargaining in bad faith but the Americans who elected him would more likely say the president is simply moving ahead with honoring his campaign pledge to build the wall as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The executive order was sufficient to set at least the construction planning process in motion because a 2006 law supported at the time by Democrat Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton was never repealed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted for the legislation in 2006 but now finds that vote decidedly inconvenient in the current political climate.

A fortnight after the recent election he said he would oppose Trump’s plan to move forward with wall construction.

“We’re not going to help him build his wall,” Schumer told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

It needs to be noted that Schumer received a rough reception from the public on Inauguration Day. In what may very well foreshadow the tone of the new 115th Congress, Schumer was booed by members of the public during his speech at the inauguration ceremonies in which he subjected the National Mall audience to an otherwise patriotic lecture that he insisted on infusing with a touch of politically correct identity-politics cant.

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity,” he said. “Whether we are immigrant or native-born. Whether we live with disabilities or do not. In wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country.”

Other Democrats in Congress share Schumer’s political predicament. A slew of House members including Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), at the time in the House, are still there.

Among the Democrat senators still in the Senate who voted for the 2006 measure are Tom Carper (Del.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).

“Democrats are solidly behind controlling the border, and we support the border fence,” Feinstein said at the time. “We’ve got to get tough on the border. There’s no question the border is a sieve.”

The 11-year-old law authorizes construction of 700 miles of fencing on the southern border, along with other security measures such as cameras and sensors.

When Democrats took over the subsequent Congress, an amendment to a 2008 spending measure stripped out a statutory provision mandating among other things that the barrier be made with double-layer fencing. Democrats got to pretend they supported building the border barrier but lacking funding, the wall was stalled.

But because the law authorizing the building of the wall is still on the books, Trump was able to move the process forward Obama-style with the stroke of a pen. Now he just needs Congress to appropriate the $12 billion in construction costs. He vows to make Mexico foot the bill and has proposed slapping tariffs on Mexican imports to cover the cost.

According to a Fox Business analysis:

Congress doesn’t have to pass a new law to begin construction, and can instead package the funds necessary into a massive spending bill Democrats would have a politically hard time opposing. Trump may get a head start on the process by diverting other funds congressional leaders have indicated are available for the project, ensuring a snafu over the spending bill doesn’t hinder prompt construction of the wall.

If Trump and Republicans follow through, a number of top Democrats will find they inadvertently handed Trump the border wall they now oppose. Their only option to block the construction would be to shut down the government over the matter by blocking the spending bill, a strategy they have consistently mocked and derided Republicans for using in the past.

Although left-wingers have been whipping themselves into a frenzy daily, characterizing President Trump’s approach to border security as monstrous and Hitlerian, Mexico’s approach to dealing with unwanted visitors on its soil is draconian compared to America’s.

Mexican law makes it a felony to be present without permission anywhere in that country. Political activism by illegals is forbidden. Those who use fake documents to enter Mexico are jailed or deported and those who assist them are also jailed.

Mexican immigration policy is based on Mexican self-interest. Only foreigners deemed useful to Mexico are allowed in “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Immigrants to Mexico must be able to support themselves and their dependents.

Foreigners may be denied entry to Mexico if their presence is thought to: disturb “the equilibrium of the national demographics”; be detrimental to “economic or national interests”; if they have violated Mexican laws; or if they are determined not to be “physically or mentally healthy.”

According to Discover the Networks:

Mexican guards at the Guatemalan border, the locale for most attempts at illegal entry, are notorious for the brutality of their treatment of would-be immigrants. The guards’ use of violence, rape, and extortion against those seeking to cross into Mexico has, in fact, managed the border so well that the country has only a minimal illegal-immigration problem.

In addition, Mexico deliberately undermines U.S. immigration laws.

The Mexican government provides “survival kits” and maps to those seeking to sneak into the U.S. A dozen years ago Mexico’s foreign ministry published a 32-page book called “The Guide for the Mexican Migrant,” that explained to would-be border jumpers how to evade U.S. law enforcement.

“This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country,” the book reads. Comic book-style illustrations showed illegals wading into a river in order to steer clear of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The guidebook advised readers to “[t]ry to walk during times when the heat is not as intense[,]” and drink “[s]alt water [because it] helps you retain your body’s liquids.” It also provided sound sartorial advice: “Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float.”

In a column last year, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) explained why the government of Mexico encourages its citizens to move to the U.S. by any means possible.

Mexico sees Mexicans in the United States as strategic assets in every sense of that word. They are seen as extensions of the Mexican state and partners in Mexico’s plans.

Mexico amended its constitution to permit dual citizenship and to let Mexicans residing outside Mexico vote in Mexican elections, Tancredo wrote. It did this to increase the Mexican population within the U.S. Moreover, he wrote, it is Mexican government policy to treat “all Mexican-Americans as ‘Mexicans First’ and Americans second.” Children born to Mexican nationals in the U.S. are dual citizens of both countries at the time of their birth and qualify to vote in Mexican elections when they’re older.

These policies are not “mere expressions of Mexican pride,” according to Tancredo.

They are indications of a policy of planned interference in American domestic affairs. The policy of dual citizenship is only the visible tip of the iceberg of a strategic plan for active and overt involvement in American politics to advance Mexican government interests.

Anyone who thinks I am exaggerating should do a little research and listen to the words of Mexican leaders. For example, Vincente Fox, President of Mexico from 2000-2006, proclaimed from a Texas stage that Mexico believes any person of Mexican descent owes a loyalty to Mexico “unto the seventh generation.”

Mexican politicians also encourage settlement in “el Norte” because they don’t want to lose the $25 billion in hard currency that the millions of Mexicans in the U.S. who can’t find work in Mexico send in the form of cash remittances every year to their families in Mexico.

That motherlode of greenbacks, Tancredo observed, constitutes “30 percent of Mexico’s foreign investment, rivaling tourism in importance to the Mexican economy[.]”

Trump could choose to pay for the wall by imposing a tax on foreign remittances. That would be painless for most Americans and have the added bonus of removing the incentive for many illegal aliens from Mexico to stay here. And it would drive the already-enraged Left crazy and encourage its activists to take their protests against Trump to the next level of nuttiness. Such a move could cause a backlash that would likely advance Republican interests.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s vow to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that harbor illegal aliens is already beginning to pay off.

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) yesterday ordered his county’s jailers to honor federal immigration detention requests, the Miami Herald reports.

Gimenez cited an executive order signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut federal grants for any counties or cities that don’t cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally and wanted by ICE — not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense.

It looks like Trump wasn’t joking on the campaign trail when he claimed under his presidency, “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.”

After eight long years of Barack Obama, Americans desperately need to win.

Mexico’s President Cancels White House Visit After Trump Hits Cartels

January 26, 2017

Mexico’s President Cancels White House Visit After Trump Hits Cartels, BreitbartIldefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby, January 26, 2017

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto pauses during a press conference at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Pena Nieto said Monday that Mexico's attitude towards the Donald Trump administration should not be aggressive or biased, but one of dialogue. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto pauses during a press conference at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Pena Nieto said Monday that Mexico’s attitude towards the Donald Trump administration should not be aggressive or biased, but one of dialogue. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled his planned visit to the U.S. where he was expected to meet with President Donald J. Trump. The cancellation comes after Mexico’s government denounced Trump’s new border security measures aimed at interfering with the cash flow of the very Mexican cartels believed to have financed the current Mexican president’s campaign.

On Thursday morning, Peña Nieto took to Twitter to announce that his staff had notified the White House that he would not be going to the scheduled meetings with Trump.

On Wednesday, Trump signed two executive orders dealing with enforcing current immigration laws and the construction of a border wall. Trump specifically called out Mexican cartels in the executive order. In response to the anti-cartel measures, Peña Nieto took to social media, as Breitbart Texas reported.

In addition to denouncing the measure, Peña Nieto announced that he would be ordering the 50 Mexican Consulates in the U.S. to step up their efforts to protect “migrants”. The Mexican president made no mention of the fact that the migrants are one of the largest funding mechanisms for the cartels who reportedly helped him gain his office.

In response to Peña Nieto’s announcement, Trump responded on Twitter that it would be better to cancel the meeting. According to Trump, the U.S.- Mexico relation has been one sided with the current $60 billion trade deficit with Mexico in connection with the current North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mexican President Peña Nieto has been the subject of immaculate investigative reporting in his own country, though his reported ties to Mexican cartels received little attention from the U.S. during the presidency of Barack Obama.

As Breitbart Texas previously reported:

An in-depth investigation has revealed that through the use of shell companies, members of the Juarez Cartel financed the political campaign of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The cartel members appear to have also used government programs to launder money and profit form their networks of contacts.

The bombshell revelation was made this week by the independent news outlet Aristegui Noticias who claim that top officials of the Juarez Cartel financed thousands of cash cards that were handed out by Mexico’s Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) during the 2012 political campaign that resulted in the victory of Enrique Pena Nieto. According to the Mexican journalists, the cash cards were provided by a company called Monex. They were reported to be financed through a series of shell corporations by key players with the Juarez Cartel.     

Through a three part series, the Mexican news organization identified Rodolfo David “El Consul” Avila Cordero as a key figure in the financial scandal that implicates the leading figures in Mexico’s ruling party the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI).

Avila Cordero was arrested in 2005 in Mexico City in connection with the seizure of almost $750,000 in cash. At the time authorities had identified him as a top tier operative with the Juarez (Carrillo Fuente) Cartel who worked as their financial operator an a key figure in their connections with Colombian drug lords.  Avila Cordero had earned the nickname “The Consul” because of his links to high ranking officials within the Mexican government and acted as an ambassador of sorts, Aristegui Noticias reported.

Eight years after his arrest, Avila Cordero became a contractor for a government funded program called Crusade Against Hunger. Using a company called Conclave SA de CV and Prodasa SA de CV, Cordero was able to secure more than $396 million pesos or $25 million in government contracts through rigged bidding processes by government officials.

The Crusade Against Hunger is a pet project of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto who claimed that with that program he would improve the quality of life for his people.

According to the investigation by the Mexican journalists, Conclave and Prodasa are shell companies that do not have real offices or staff.

As previously reported by Breitbart Texas, Carmen Aristegui, the founder of Aristegui Noticias, was a top rated  radio journalists in Mexico, however her investigation into properties given to Pena Nieto as bribes led to her news outlet firing her and her staff. Despite being off the air, Aristegui continues reporting through her website.

As part of the investigation Aristegui Noticias also confirmed that Conclave was involved in the trading of soccer players with European soccer clubs.

Breitbart Texas also illuminated the current realities in Pieña Nieto’s Mexico, especially along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Mexican president has allowed paramilitary narco-cartels to control entire Mexican states. We wrote:

Though many politicians, journalists, and pundits have criticized the concept of a physical border barrier while others claimed the border to be safe, the aforementioned groups and individuals are simply ignorant on the topic or engaging in intentional deception. Breitbart Texas and the Cartel Chronicles effort has reported ad nauseum on Mexican cartels that have operational control over entire Mexican border states — including the governors’ offices and newsrooms. Our reporting has shown that U.S. law enforcement encounters with known or suspected terrorists have occurred frequently in remote areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. We’ve shown that there are humanitarian consequences associated with an unsecured border — not just for U.S. citizens, but for foreigners as well.

Our reporting has shown that one of the Mexican cartels, Los Zetas, is currently stockpiling Russian rocket-propelled grenades and their launchers at the Texas border, that they recently forced down a U.S. helicopter by open firing on the aircraft and striking it. Los Zetas are headquartered in Nuevo Laredo, a city that sits immediately across the shallow and narrow Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. There are no fences or walls in the region and the local police do not have a presence in many of the gang-infested narco-neighborhoods that sit in Texas along the open border.

This particular cartel also committed mass murders in communities near the Texas border in Mexico. They “disappeared” hundreds of civilians and burned them in a network of ovens that were operated in government facilities.

Along with Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel is also headquartered immediately south of the Texas border. The Mexican state of Tamaulipas is largely controlled by the two paramilitary groups. All of the news outlets in the region have a “link” who works for the cartel and tells journalists what they can and can’t write about. Journalists and editors who ignore the control of the local cartel faction are brutally murdered. Many concerned citizens in Mexico have taken to anonymous social media accounts to report on the cartels. When the now-citizen-journalists are discovered, they are brutally murdered.

The cartels in this region have also set up metropolitan camera and surveillance systems across the cities they control. Two of the past three governors for the state are currently fugitives from U.S. justice for their roles and relationships with the cartels. One of the former-governor fugitives was being protected by the state government as recently as a few months ago.

Law and Order Returns to the Border

January 26, 2017

Law and Order Returns to the Border, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, January 26, 2017

trump4

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 population seeking 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.

President Trump’s Immigration Challenge

January 4, 2017

President Trump’s Immigration Challenge, Front Page MagazineMichael Cutler, January 4, 2017

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On January 20, 2017 President Trump can and likely will end all of Obama’s illegal immigration executive orders, but he needs to do more.

For decades the effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws was hobbled by lack of resources in general and a particularly devastating failure to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.

For decades the Border Patrol was perceived as the primary enforcement arm of America’s immigration laws and for the Border Patrol this worked out fine.  They got the lion’s share of publicity and, far more importantly, the funding while INS special agents and the interior enforcement mission were all but ignored

When the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) was created in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11, the former INS was dismantled and broken into several components of the DHS and mixed in with other agencies, principally the U.S. Customs Service.

Bad as it was for INS agents to operate in the shadow of the Border Patrol, the creation of the DHS was disastrous and caused many of the INS agents nostalgic for “the good old days.”

On May 5, 2005 the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims conducted a hearing on the topic, “New ‘Dual Mission’ Of The Immigration Enforcement Agencies.”

I was one of four witnesses who testified at that hearing.  In point of fact, I testified at several hearings that sought to understand the challenges that the creation of the DHS created for the effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.

In my testimony I clearly articulated my concerns about the myriad issues created when the DHS was established and the former INS was dismantled.

Consider this excerpt from the testimony of then-Subcommittee Chairman John Hostettler in which he articulated the importance of immigration law enforcement and that was, however, hobbled by the creation of the DHS:

The first two Subcommittee hearings of the year examined in detail how the immigration enforcement agencies have inadequate resources and too few personnel to carry out their mission. The witnesses mentioned the lack of uniforms, badges, detention space, and the inevitable low morale of frontline agents who are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming illegal aliens. If this were not enough, these ”immigration enforcement” agencies also face internal confusion resulting from dual or multiple missions in which immigration has all too often taken a back seat. Sadly, contrary to Congress’ expectations, immigration enforcement has not been the primary focus of either of these agencies, and that is the subject of today’s hearing.

The Homeland Security Act, enacted in November 2002, split the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, into separate immigration service and enforcement agencies, both within the Department of Homeland Security. This split had been pursued by Chairman Sensenbrenner based on testimony and evidence that the dual missions of INS had resulted in poor performance.

There was a constant tug-of-war between providing good service to law-abiding aliens and enforcing the law against law-breakers. The plain language of the Homeland Security Act, Title D, creates a ”Bureau of Border Security,” and specifically transfers all immigration enforcement functions of INS into it. Yet when it came down to actually creating the two: new agencies, the Administration veered off course. Although the service functions of INS were transferred to USCIS, the enforcement side of INS was split in two, what is now Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to handle interior enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to guard our borders.

ICE was given all Customs agents, investigators, intelligence and analysis-from the Treasury Department, as well as the Federal Protective Service to guard Federal buildings, and the Federal Air Marshals to protect our airplanes, and finally the INS investigators.

CBP was given all Treasury Customs inspectors at the ports-of-entry, Agriculture Inspector from the Department Of Agriculture, and INS inspectors.

At no time during the reorganization planning was it anticipated by the Committee that an immigration enforcement agency would share its role with other enforcement functions, such as enforcement of our customs laws. This simply results in the creation of dual or multiple missions that the act sought to avoid in the first place.

Failure to adhere to the statutory framework established by HSA has produced immigration enforcement incoherence that undermines the immigration enforcement mission central to DHS, and undermines the security of our Nation’s borders and citizens.

It is not certain on what basis it was determined that customs and agriculture enforcement should become part of the immigration enforcement agency, except to require Federal agents at the border to have more expertise and more functions.

It is also unknown on what basis the Federal Air Marshals should become part of this agency, especially since it has been revealed that the policy is not to apprehend out-of-immigration status aliens when discovered on flights. If the mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect the homeland, it cannot effect its mission by compromising or neglecting immigration enforcement for customs enforcement.

The 9/11 terrorists all came to the United States without weapons or contraband—Added customs enforcement would not have stopped 9/11 from happening. What might have foiled al Qaeda’s plan was additional immigration focus, vetting and enforcement. And so what is needed is recognition that, one, immigration is a very important national security issue that cannot take a back seat to customs or agriculture. Two, immigration is a very complex issue, and immigration enforcement agencies need experts in immigration enforcement. And three, the leadership of our immigration agencies should be shielded from political pressures to act in a way which could compromise the Nation’s security.

It was clear that the Bush administration was eager to de-emphasize immigration law enforcement.  What was not noted in the testimony is that most of the management at ICE came from Legacy Customs and not from Legacy INS.