Trump is not a 'skunk' — but we need more than just a wall

After meeting with President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE at the White House, House Democratic leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHistory teaches that Nancy Pelosi is right about impeachment The politics and practicalities of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms MORE mocked his desire for border-wall funding.  “It’s like a manhood thing for him,” she told members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee after returning to the Capitol.  “It goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

It does not bode well for bipartisan cooperation that the presumptive leader of the House Democrats responded to Trump’s request for border-wall funding with ad hominem remarks.

But maybe Pelosi had no choice. Trump is right, and she almost certainly knows it. A wall would make illegal border crossings more difficult.

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In fact, Senate Democrats used to support such measures. When the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed to authorize the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border, 26 Democratic senators voted for it. It passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19.

In the House, it passed by a vote of 283 to 138, with 64 Democrats voting for it. Pelosi voted against it.

On the other hand, Trump is mistaken if he thinks that he just has to construct a wall between the United States and Mexico to secure the border.

Many of the undocumented aliens in the United States did not cross the Mexican border illegally to get here.

A report issued by three Yale-affiliated researchers in September 2018, estimates that there are more than 22 million undocumented aliens in the United States, and that approximately 41 percent of them entered as nonimmigrant visitors and overstayed their admission periods.

Trump’s border security funding request therefore should include measures to locate and remove overstays. He could start with the overstays who used the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to come here.

This program allows eligible visitors from 38 countries to enter the United States for 90 days as nonimmigrant visitors for business or pleasure without obtaining a visa from an American consulate office.

VWP overstays totaled 379,734 from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2017. No one knows how many overstayed in the 27-year period between the inception of the program in 1988, and when DHS began recording entry/exit data for fiscal 2015.

They can be removed without adding to the immigration court backlog crisis. If a VWP alien does not leave at the end of his admission period, he can be sent home on the order of a district director without a hearing before an immigration judge, unless he applies for asylum or withholding of removal.

Perhaps Trump should request legislation to remove aliens from the program who may not be bona fide visitors, such as young men who are unemployed. Restrictions are already in place to remove aliens from the program for security reasons.

Nationals of VWP countries who have been in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011, are not allowed to use the program. They may still be able to come here, but they will have to go through the visa application screening process.

Trump also should request funding to address the incentives that encourage illegal border crossings, such as the “job magnet.”

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) added section 274A to the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide sanctions for employers who hire aliens who are not authorized to work in the United States. But the program has never been fully implemented.

The Trump administration has increased worksite enforcement efforts. In fiscal 2018, the Homeland Security Investigations office opened 6,848 worksite investigations, compared to 1,691 in fiscal 2017. But there are more than 30.2 million businesses in the United States.

A new approach is needed.

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Many American employers hire undocumented foreign workers because it is easy to exploit them. The Department of Labor (DOL) can address this problem purely as a labor issue, which would eliminate the need to determine whether employees are aliens and if so whether they have valid work authorization.

DOL enforces federal labor laws that were enacted to curb such abuses, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act which established a minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment standards. With additional funding, DOL could mount a large-scale, nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire large numbers of undocumented immigrants.

I expect Trump to get the funding he needs to build his wall and maybe to do some of the other things I have suggested. I just hope that it does not become another SBInet fiasco.

SBInet was supposed to cover the entire southwest border with a virtual fence consisting of a tightly integrated surveillance system. Despite DHS supervision and numerous congressional oversight hearings, when the SBInet project was terminated, it had only managed to cover a 53-mile section of the border… at a cost to the American taxpayers of $1 billion.

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.