Trump’s Opening Months Are A Mixed Bag When It Comes To Immigration

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Illegal immigration has plummeted in the first months of the Trump presidency, but amnesty remains.

“We are in fact seeing some really good movement on immigration. Just taking the handcuffs off of the Border patrol and ICE agents is having a real effect, so it’s not like nothing is happening and it’s a total betrayal,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said in a radio interview Friday.

However, he continued on to say that “they are some real problems that are kind of disturbing” and referenced President Trump’s inaction on Obama’s executive amnesties. After that interview, Trump spoke to the Associated Press and announced that he would not deport illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.

He said his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals,” adding, “this is a case of heart.” On the campaign trail, Trump attacking Jeb Bush for calling illegal immigration “an act of love” and said that he would “immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties.”

One of these amnesties for illegal immigrant parents of American citizens remains blocked by federal court decisions, and the other for over 750,000 “dreamers” now has Trump’s blessing. This has led to Trump-supporting Republican congressman Steve King to suggest that Trump will be sued by conservatives much like Obama was.

President Trump also called for an end to refugee resettlement while on the campaign trail and signed executive orders to accomplish this. However, the orders were blocked by courts, and now the Trump administration has resettled nearly 80 percent more Syrian refugees than President Obama did during the same time period last year.

In addition, the H-1B visa program still exists despite Trump saying when elected he “will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program.” Although the president did sign an executive order last week, which officials said will reform the visa program so that qualified Americans aren’t losing jobs to low-skilled immigrants.

But like Krikorian said there hasn’t been a “total betrayal.” The Trump administration has called for the hiring of thousands of additional immigration officers, ended the “catch and release” policy, and told prosecutors to focus on illegal immigrants.

Apprehensions of family units crossing the southwest border decreased from 16,139 in December to 1,125 family units in March, as border apprehensions in general fell to a 17-year low. This is all before ICE was been able to fully enact Trump’s immigration policies.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said in a speech last week that DHS has not done “the big things yet.” The planned expansion of a program for local police to enforce immigration law has not occurred, the wall hasn’t been built, and the additional immigration agents haven’t been hired.

Secretary Kelly even said Sunday: “I would just again tell the illegal immigrant community, if you are simply here illegally, we don’t really have the time to go after you. We’re looking for bad men and women and we’re doing that very, very effectively.”

Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos explained this drop in illegal immigration as due to the “Trump effect.” “These people are calling their relatives and their friends, saying, ‘don’t come here, this is not the right moment,'” Ramos said in an appearance on CNN.

Human smugglers south of the border, known as coyotes, echoed these comments in a recent interview with a Mexican news outlet. They said they are charging up to six times more to bring people into the U.S. than they did under Obama as they are fearful of the “gringos” cracking down.

All in all, Roy Beck, the founder of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for reduced immigration, told The Daily Caller that he would give the Trump administration a “B” grade so far.