Trump touts border crackdown

President Trump on Wednesday vowed to restore law and order at a southern border he views as out of control.
Appearing at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters in Washington, Trump hammered former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCutting through the noise of COVID risk: Real-life consequences of oversimplification Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige Appeasement doesn't work as American foreign policy MORE's track record on immigration enforcement and promised things will be drastically different under his watch.
The problem is not the law, Trump said, it was Obama's reluctance to enforce it.
"This is a law enforcement agency," Trump said to applause, "but for too long, your officers and agents haven't been allowed to properly do their jobs."
"That's all about to change, and I'm very happy about it and you're very happy about it," he told a gathering of DHS employees. "From here on out, I'm asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States of America. They will be enforced and enforced strongly."
The United States under Obama deported more than 2.5 million people, a record number for a president and a figure Trump alluded to in the final debate of the 2016 presidential election, when he said Obama "has moved millions of people out" of the U.S.
Trump's comments came shortly after he signed an executive order making good on the central message of his campaign: The promise to bolster the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. 
"A nation without borders is not a nation," he said.
Trump portrayed the wall as a benefit not only to American law enforcers working the border, but also to the Mexican government "by deterring illegal immigration from Central America and by disrupting violent cartels' networks."
"By working together on a positive trade, safe borders and economic cooperation, I truly believe we can enhance the relation between our two nations to a degree not seen before, certainly in a very, very long time," he said. "I think our relationship with Mexico is going to get better."
Trump also vowed to crack down on undocumented immigrants, focusing first on those with criminal records.
"We are going to get the bad ones out: the criminals and the drug deals and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders," he said. "The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc."
In a second immigration order, also signed Wednesday, Trump vowed to end the "catch and release" of undocumented immigrants and replace it with a catch-and-deport system, particularly when criminals are apprehended. He said he'll "require" other countries to take back the deported criminals.
"They will take them back," he said, without elaborating.
Trump promised to hire an additional 5,000 border security agents, triple the number of immigration enforcement officers nationwide and rein in so-called sanctuary cities, the term applied to municipalities that discourage local law enforcers from cooperating with federal immigration agencies.
Trump also used Wednesday's podium to highlight crime committed by undocumented immigrants. He introduced the family members of several victims of such crime and accused the media of ignoring their stories.
"Pundits talk about how enforcing immigration laws can separate illegal immigrant families," he said, "but the families they don't talk about are the families of Americans."
The president praised newly sworn-in Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, saying he'll protect the country "like you've never seen before."
The reaction to Trump's orders was swift and cut almost exclusively along party lines. 
Republicans hailed the moves as a welcome change after years of what they considered negligence on the part of Obama's DHS to enforce the nation's immigration laws. 
Democrats have a markedly different view, characterizing Trump's moves as politically motivated and harmful to immigrant families. 
"I suspect that a lot of Trump supporters would be just as happy with a big statue of a middle finger pointed south," said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), "because both are about equally effective as national security strategies."