The Trump administration’s decision to close the Flores immigration loophole is the latest in a series of long-overdue, common-sense immigration reforms. While liberals will cry foul, average Americans are demanding this kind of smart, targeted step toward solving our immigration crisis.
While Congress has tried and failed for decades to create a comprehensive immigration reform plan, the administration has steadily been chipping away at the system’s problems to make immigration work for our country again.
Two weeks ago, the White House issued a “public charge” rule change, restricting the ability of non-citizens to apply for a green card if they rely significantly on welfare benefits or are likely to do so. This week, they issued a new regulation to replace the Flores settlement and end family separation during lengthy immigration proceedings.
In 2019 alone, the White House has directed 17 major immigration and border changes. The administration is taking real action — and voters will take notice.
This summer, Heritage Action for America polled 4,500 voters about their top political concerns. The results were clear: immigration is their top issue. Almost two-thirds of voters in swing states acknowledged there is an emergency at the border, and most voters across the country said that illegal immigration affects their life. And among every demographic category, abuse of social services was the top worry about illegal immigration — an issue the public charge rule directly addresses.
That’s why the administration’s recent spate of immigration reforms is so important. Americans are concerned and worried about immigration more than any other issue, yet legislators have failed for decades to address the problem. Our border is overwhelmed, and the people know it. Thankfully, these new rules have begun to transform our immigration system into one that will work for the American people, though there is still much work to be done.
For decades, our nation has seen a flood of immigration. The “comprehensive” immigration reform of the 1980s backfired, granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens without sealing the border. Since then, our nation has effectively opened our borders, and no comprehensive attempt has worked since. This year, our southern border saw the largest spike in border apprehensions in over a decade.
Tens of millions of hardworking immigrants have entered through the legal process and contributed greatly to this country. But millions more have come illegally, refusing to abide by our nation’s laws. A Heritage Foundation study found that the presence of millions of illegal immigrants drives wages down, particularly for low-income families, and drives the nation’s tax and welfare bills up.
The administration recognizes that reality: hundreds of millions of people want to come to our country, and many of them could contribute great things. Yet our broken immigration system has advantaged those who will work for less than minimum wage and those who show a disregard for our laws, giving them access to our generous social safety net and even granting them legal status through rules like DACA.
Most Americans polled by Heritage Action favor prioritizing immigrants based on skill, not family connection. That’s why the administration’s recent targeted efforts will resonate so strongly with voters. The administration’s rules will limit those who abuse our systems of welfare, amnesty, and law enforcement while encouraging those who want to come to this country and contribute to society — no-brainer policies to anyone who lives outside the D.C. bubble.
The new Flores replacement will be particularly helpful. Before this rule, DHS had to either separate families or simply release them into the interior. It wasn’t working. Up to 90 percent of those released never showed up for their asylum hearings.
Recognizing the folly of “catch and release,” even the Obama administration detained families together—until an activist judge forced them to begin family separation in 2014.
Family separation was bad for illegal immigrants and the American people. Now our law enforcement will have more time to move people through our courts and apply the rule of law.
Immigration is a great American tradition, but our immigration system has stopped working for the American people. While politicians and the news media wail about racism, voters across the political spectrum know the truth: we’re facing a crisis driven by a lawless border. It’s affecting our lives, our communities, and our wages.
Americans and immigrants both want a system that applies the law, supports our citizens, and helps our nation thrive — that’s just common sense. Kudos to the Trump administration for working to deliver that, even when Congress won’t.
Tim Chapman is the executive director of Heritage Action for America.