Opinion

OPINION: How You Can Influence Trump On Immigration

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Joanne Butler Contributor

Do you receive political fundraising mail? I do — and lots of it. Here’s an easy way to let the president, Congress and national committees know your feelings about illegal immigration and the wall.

The next time you get a national Republican fundraising appeal in the mail, open it, remove the “contribution card,” and write in large letters (but do not obscure your name and address): I WANT A WALL.

Pop it in the return envelope (you might not need a stamp!) and do not enclose a check. Mail it. Easy!

Why could this make a difference?

Back in 2004, I did back office work for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. My job was to go through the mail and classify per topic. This included contribution cards from fundraising mailers.

The mail had been opened at a remote site and the checks removed. What I was seeing were digital images. And I learned a lot from what I saw.

Most importantly, I learned that illegal immigration was a hot topic in 2004 (14 years ago!). So much so that the sorting program had to add an “immigration” button to its topic menu. Consider that when the program had been designed, campaign operatives didn’t think immigration was important. The mail proved they were wrong.

I can’t tell you the percentage or number of contribution cards with the words “stop Immigration” scrawled on them; I processed thousands of documents 14 years ago. But as the computer program had to be modified to account for the volume of immigration-related mail (mostly those cards), there must have been a significant volume.

Plus, I had heard the bigwig campaign experts were very interested in any hot topics from the mail.

Of course, this didn’t translate into George W. Bush’s campaign addressing immigration. Perhaps the bigwigs were more interested in taking the temperature of the base’s acceptance of Bush’s performance as president, support for military operations overseas and so on.

This time it’s different. Candidate Trump won the 2016 election largely on his promise to halt illegal immigration. But we see the White House preoccupied not with immigration, but with criminal justice reform. Why? Because the president’s son-in-law’s father spent time in prison. And stopping illegal immigration was pegged lower on the priority list.

As someone who’s worked as a political appointee, the first lesson is: time is short and priorities matter tremendously.

One moment, the president is on the steps of the Capitol being sworn in. Then, in a mere blink of an eye, there’s that gut-punch when the administration’s people realize there are only so many months, weeks and, finally, days to finish the president’s work.

Is it realistic to expect approval a wall with a Democrat-controlled House in 2019–2020? While getting the wall funded is a stretch, nevertheless, the president and Republican members of Congress must know that immigration is a priority. Not criminal justice reform, or even last year’s tax cut bill — issues that have stepped in front of immigration control.

For example, has the president fully used his executive order authority regarding illegal immigration? In my opinion, he has not.

Do young men who receive green cards, asylum status or citizenship also register with the Selective Service (making them eligible for the draft if one comes up)? They’re supposed to. The Selective Service law does NOT exempt men who are dual citizens or foreign nationals. If young men are not registering as part of the immigration process, an executive order could fix this.

What about getting the IRS to help solve the immigration problem? Currently, illegal immigrants may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), so they can pay federal and state income taxes. The IRS won’t reveal who has an ITIN, as they see their mission is to get people (regardless of their immigration status) to pay their taxes. The IRS fears lower tax collections would result if ITIN information was shared with ICE.

ICE, however, would be able to find immigrants who have to show up for hearings, locate their employers and so on. Perhaps the president should have a chat with the IRS Commissioner and the Treasury Secretary.

Regarding welfare benefits, why not replicate the formal entrance experience? Upon arrival in the United States, ICE has two inspection stations: one for U.S. citizens and green-card holders and another for non-citizens.

Why not issue an executive order requiring HHS, for programs that serve citizens and non-citizens, to serve U.S. citizens (and green card holders) first? It might discourage those who come to America for welfare benefits when they learn they have to wait for them.

Turning to E-Verify, does the president know about the loophole regarding subcontractors operating under a federal prime contract? According to the E-Verify webpage, subcontractors that are suppliers are not subject to E-Verify even if the prime contractor is. Could this be fixed by an executive order?

Further, why not increase E-Verify compliance audits of Federal contractors and subcontractors? It’s amazing how people will change their behavior when they know the Feds are keeping tabs on them.

President Trump needs to change his behavior too when it comes to immigration. Writing “I WANT A WALL” on a contribution card might not get us a wall, but it will get the Republican solons — and perhaps the president’s — attention that immigration matters. And you might not even need a stamp!

Joanne Butler was an international trade specialist at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA (GHW Bush administration). In the GWB administration, she was the senior adviser/speechwriter for an assistant secretary at the Department of Labor.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.