President Donald Trump has not put “millions” of illegal immigrants at risk of deportation, as several high-pitched headlines indicate. The vast majority of people living in the country illegally put themselves at risk when they chose to break U.S. law.
The press is aflurry with headlines declaring a new “threat of deportation” for the 10 to 15 million illegal immigrants living in the country, because the Trump administration has instructed immigration officials to enforce the law. “New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions,” reads an ominous New York Times headline. Of course the “new” rules are really just instructions to his administration to enforce previously existing laws regarding who can and cannot enter the country.
Rather than turn a blind eye to some classes of illegal immigrants — as the Obama administration had instructed — officials are now under orders to detain and deport every illegal immigrant they encounter. The Department of Homeland Security issued the orders implementing Trump’s enforcement plan Tuesday. All agents, including Customs and Border Protection agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, are to identify, arrest and deport as soon as possible illegal immigrants who cross into their paths.
Some of the press is blaming the DHS memo for putting vast swaths of illegal immigrants at risk of deportation, although the vast majority of them put themselves at risk of deportation when they chose to live in the country illegally. USA Today, in particular, really played up this angle in the first sentence of its story on the DHS memo, reporting the order put “the vast majority” of people living in the country illegally “at risk of deportation.”
But wait a minute. The people who walked across the southern border in violation of U.S. law? They put themselves at risk of deportation the moment they stepped across. And the people who chose to stay in the country after their work or travel visa expired? Again, they put themselves at risk of deportation.
While it’s certainly true the chances of deportation under Trump are higher than they perhaps were under President Obama, reporters are leaving out important context if they ignore the responsibility most of these immigrants hold for this “threat.”
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