WASHINGTON, April 25, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As America's leading advocacy and watchdog group promoting immigration reforms that serve the broad national interest, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) notes that the 100th day of the Trump administration is an occasion for "cautious optimism" but continued pressure on Congress to engage.
Steady progress has been made and positive results are occurring, but much work remains. Immigration laws are being carried out in the national interest for the first time in decades. The president has used his executive authority to roll back reckless, and often unconstitutional, policy changes implemented by his predecessor. He's also used existing law to restore order and consistent enforcement to U.S. immigration policies, both on the border and in the interior of the nation. However, real and lasting progress in ensuring that U.S. immigration policy truly serves the interests of the American people will require not only presidential leadership, but also action by Congress.
Unfortunately, the Republican majority in Congress has been almost completely missing in action, while Democrats have been nothing but obstructionists. On the issue of the border wall, for example, just over 10 years ago Senators Schumer, Clinton, Obama and 23 other Democratic senators voted for a bill mandating that a secure barrier be constructed, authorizing "reinforced fencing" along 700 miles of the southwest border. Today, that same party is prepared to shut down the government over the issue of funding the completion of that same structure while continuing to defend dangerous and illegal sanctuary policies.
Highlights of the first 100 days include:
- Changing perceptions. Merely by sending clear signals that the administration intends to take immigration enforcement seriously, the new administration has triggered a dramatic reduction in people attempting to enter the country illegally. Border apprehensions have reached 17-year lows. America's dedicated and heroic immigration enforcement officers – essentially told to stand down for the last eight years – are finally able to do the jobs they were trained to do, and their morale is rebounding.
- Ended catch and release policy. Under President Obama, most illegal aliens arriving at the border were processed and released into the United States pending a hearing (for which they were unlikely to appear). As a result of the Trump administration's decision to end this policy, the numbers of unaccompanied minors and families with children arriving at the border have fallen by 90 percent.
- The "Wall." In his first week in office, President Trump took steps to fulfill his promise to secure the border by issuing an Executive Order directing the Department of Homeland Security to move forward with the secure fencing that was authorized by Congress in 2007, but only partially completed. Clearly, there will be a larger budget battle for the remainder of the wall, and the president seems committed to fight for it.
- Renewed interior enforcement. Under President Obama, enforcement of immigration laws against illegal aliens in the interior of the country was abandoned, except for serious felons. The Trump administration, as required by statute, has expanded removal prioritization to include all criminal aliens and restored meaningful deterrence through enforcement against other immigration law violators. In addition, the administration has begun pressuring recalcitrant foreign governments to accept repatriation of their citizens who are deported from the United States.
- Protecting American workers. President Trump issued an Executive Order to close some loopholes in the H-1B guest worker program that undermine the jobs and wages of American workers.
- Action against sanctuary jurisdictions. The Trump administration has taken steps to withhold targeted federal funds from dangerous sanctuary jurisdictions that actively obstruct the federal government's ability to enforce immigration laws and fully share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
- Addressing the jobs magnet through E-Verify: The president has included in his budget the funds to begin to implement fully a national system of E-Verify, the electronic-based verification system that ensures that only those who have a right to work in the U.S. can be hired.
- Addressing threats of jihadist terrorism. The president issued two Executive Orders aimed at limiting entry of people from countries known to support or harbor jihadist terrorism until more effective screening procedures can be implemented. These orders have been temporarily blocked by activist federal judges, but will likely be upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Called for a merit-based legal immigration policy. In his address to a joint session of Congress in February, President Trump called for an overhaul of the way legal immigrants to the United States are selected. The president urged that the selection criteria be modified to favor immigrants who are mostly likely to succeed and contribute positively to the United States. The president also embraced the RAISE Act, sponsored by Senators Cotton (R-AR) and Perdue (R-GA), that would begin to move the U.S. toward a better balance of merit-based immigration and nuclear family immigration.
"These actions taken by the administration during the first 100 days represent a positive start to the long process of reforming our nation's immigration policies so that they best serve the interests of the American people. Importantly, they represent a sea change in attitude not just from previous administrations which failed to even acknowledge the American people as stakeholders in their nation's immigration policy," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR.
"During the next hundred days and beyond, we expect the Trump administration to push Congress to do its job to reform U.S. immigration policies and ensure that our laws are effectively enforced. Important steps that the administration and Congress must address this year are properly funding DHS so that more ICE and BP agents can be hired and more detention space created, implementing mandatory E-Verify for all employers to protect American workers and further discourage illegal immigration, and fully implementing the biometric entry/exit system to address the growing number of illegal aliens who overstay visas," Stein continued.
"The first hundred days have been a positive start but the administration, with the full participation and cooperation for Congress, must maintain that momentum and deliver on the president's campaign promise to make our nation's immigration policies ones the American people can be proud of and confident that their interests are being protected," concluded Stein.
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group. With more than 1.3 million members and supporters nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.
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