Immigration hawks are flagging major concerns about the border deal reached by Congress to avoid a second partial government shutdown, multiple experts and former immigration enforcement officials tell The Daily Caller.
The concerns center on broader protections for illegal immigrants within the U.S. and the expansion of the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program.
“More kids will be smuggled, more kids will be molested, more kids will die” as a result of the expanded protections for illegal immigrants, former Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan told The Daily Caller.
The nearly 1,200-page bill was released Wednesday in the midnight hours and will be voted on Thursday by the House of Representatives. The bill is the result of a conference committee chaired by Democrats and Republicans with a mandate to deliver funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. southern border and avoid another partial government shutdown.
The bill provides $1.375 billion in funding for Trump’s proposed barrier and funding for approximately 40,000 detention beds for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Trump was originally seeking $5.7 billion in funding for the proposed wall and has said he is “not happy” with the compromise solution. (RELATED: Raid Leads To More Than 100 ICE Arrests In New York)
The White House has been careful not to rule out whether Trump will eventually sign the bill, with Trump himself tweeting Thursday afternoon that he was reviewing the bill. The president said Wednesday that he and his team would be combing through the bill for “any land mines” that were slipped in by Democratic staff that he could not countenance before approving it.
Reviewing the funding bill with my team at the @WhiteHouse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2019
Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian told the Caller one of the most objectionable parts of the bill to immigration restrictionists are protections for illegal immigrants who can serve as “potential sponsors” to unaccompanied minors. Krikorian likened the provision as an incentive for illegal immigrants within the U.S. already to essentially “order delivery” for a child from Central America that they’re related to in order to receive protection from deportation.
As @JessicaV_CIS notes, there is a serious amnesty/sanctuary provision snuck into the spending bill.
Section 224(a) would make it so ICE cannot detain or remove anyone who has effectively any kind of relationship (even just as a “potential sponsor”) with any unaccompanied minor: pic.twitter.com/QITiAEVw1w
— Center for Immigration Studies (@CIS_org) February 14, 2019
Krikorian urged Trump not to sign the provision, saying that it was one of the “land mines” the president had feared. Instead, he advocated for a short-term continuing resolution while the administration is able to carefully review the current legislation.
“He should make clear he will veto it in this form,” he declared.
Homan similarly warned that the expanded protections will encourage child smuggling from Central America, saying it is “condoning the trafficking of children.” He said he is absolutely certain that if this bill passes a corresponding increase in unaccompanied migrant children at the border will be seen.
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said the provision incentives law-breaking, stating, “One of, if not the biggest magnet [for illegal immigration], are the loopholes that allow violators of our immigration laws to escape consequences.”
A DHS official explained that the expanded protections for the illegal immigrants in the flagged section concern fingerprinting by U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) when an existing illegal immigrant serves as a sponsor for an unaccompanied minor. The bill would restrict the ability of ICE to use those fingerprints for enforcement purposes.
The official noted that 2,000 out of 6,000 fingerprints taken in the previous year were flagged for criminal convictions.
“What are they going to do if [an illegal immigrant] comes to sponsor an unaccompanied minor, they fingerprint the individual, and the individual actually has a prior conviction?” Mark Morgan, former President Barack Obama’s former Border Patrol chief, told the Caller. “They’re saying they’re not going to share that with ICE.”
“You’re going to put American citizens at risk because criminals can get a pass — and you put the children in danger as well,” Morgan added.
Morgan flagged other potential poison pills for immigration hawks in the border deal, including provisions that permit county officials to decide if border barriers go up or not, prohibit building any of the president’s border wall prototypes, and forbid building barriers in specific locations on the border.
“They put a sign up for the cartels” telling them where to cross by making certain areas off limits to barriers, Morgan explained.
The bill also increases the number of family units in the ATD program, which allows illegal immigrants to be released into the United States while they await removal.
ICE Deputy Director Matt Albence warned Congress in September that the ATD program is not as efficient or cost effective as detention and diminishes ICE’s ability to remove illegal immigrants from the country.
Albence claimed that the “significant increase in the arrival of both family units and unaccompanied alien children … has not been effectively mitigated by the use of Alternatives to Detention (ATD), which has proved to be substantially less effective and cost-efficient in securing removals than detention.”
Morgan told the Caller that any one of these provisions by itself would be enough for the president to avoid signing the bill — together, they make it indefensible.
“He can’t sign this,” Morgan asserted. “He said he was going to look for land mines, these are land mines.”