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Any immigration compromise must shut down magnets for future lawbreakers

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Threats can be a very effective way to modify or temporarily halt undesired behavior. It’s the threat of hidden traffic cameras than coerce drivers to slow down, and the threat of a terrifying IRS audit that convinces many people to not cheat on their taxes.

Likewise, the power of a credible threat has proven quite effective in immigration enforcement as well. Following President Trump’s tough talk on illegal immigration and cracking down on criminal aliens, illegal border crossings have hit a 45-year low, according to Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan. Recently released statistics reveal that arrests by the border patrol have declined by some 25 percent from the previous year — the lowest level since 1971, clearly demonstrating the power of the bully pulpit. 

But threats can only go so far, and eventually would be illegal aliens will begin to call the president’s bluff. The inability to deliver on some key border and interior enforcement promises, accompanied by pull factors taking place on Capitol Hill and broadcast daily to the world, could see recent gains in the fight against illegal immigration all but lost.

{mosads}The “big, beautiful wall,” that President Trump campaigned so heavily on and promised to deliver, remains largely unfunded. Prototypes have been built, but the actual $15 to $25 billion in funding needed to secure the border has yet to be delivered. The Democrats, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), who 11 years ago supported the construction of 700 miles of border wall to help protect the nation, have done a 180 turn on the issue. Now, open borders is party orthodoxy — even something worth shutting down the government over.


President Trump also promised to put dangerous sanctuary cities out of business. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the administration, the promise to “claw back” certain federal funds or cities and municipalities that embrace reckless sanctuary laws have been effectively stymied by activist judges, eager to legislate from the bench. Most recently, a federal judge in California permanently blocked the president’s executive order to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, finding that the administration lacked the authority to impose new conditions on spending already approved by Congress.

The inability to effectively punish sanctuary cities, combined with a backlash from open borders advocates eager to buck any initiative by the administration, has resulted in not only the growth of sanctuary communities across the nation, but the birth of sanctuary campuses and sanctuary states as well. When President Trump took office, it was estimated that there were roughly 300 sanctuary jurisdictions across the nation. Today, that number totals more than 500.

Sanctuary cities not only serve as a beacon to illegal immigrants, who know that once they’ve arrived in the city, they’ll be shielded from federal immigration enforcement, but they also are major public safety hazards. ICE recently reported that 10,000 criminal aliens that were released in lieu of being turned over to federal immigration authorities have recommitted new crimes against the innocent.

There has also been an enormous increase in two key pull factors. The widely-publicized insistence that some form of permanent amnesty for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients be included as part of a must-pass spending bill has not gone unnoticed south of the border. DACA has been an enormous illegal immigration magnet since its unlawful inception by President Obama in 2012.

After creation of DACA — deferred deportation accompanied by a coveted work permits for illegal aliens who arrived in the U.S. prior to their 16 birthday — there was an immediate influx of teenagers, unaccompanied minors and their families from Central America. By the beginning of 2017, nearly 113,000 minors had arrived from Central America since 2012, and they continue to come. In fact, despite a major reduction in apprehensions of illegal aliens in other categories, the only group on the uptick are unaccompanied minors and families, who are likely hoping to cash in on the DACA amnesty drama being played out on the world stage.

The other magnet that remains is the relative ease at which illegal aliens are able to continue to obtain employment in the U.S., despite the fact that it’s been illegal to hire an illegal alien in this country since 1986. This law has been undermined by the profusion of fake IDs, used to prove work status in the U.S. E-Verify, the easy to use online system that allows employers to check a potential employee’s right to work in the U.S., is another measure that President Trump has promised to deliver on. Although the president has pushed mandatory E-Verify as part of any DACA deal, its ability to turn off the jobs magnet that draws illegal immigrants into the U.S. remains largely unfulfilled.

At some point, threats become hollow and their effectiveness begins to wane. President Trump must insist that any DACA negotiations contain funding for the wall, mandatory use of E-Verify and increased penalties against dangerous sanctuary cities. The American people are waiting.

Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit group aimed at supporting legal immigration.

Tags Chuck Schumer Dave Ray deferred action for childhood arrivals Donald Trump Federation for American Immigration Reform Illegal immigration Illegal immigration to the United States Immigration Immigration to the United States

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