Trump's actions have made immigration reform moot for now
The afternoon before Donald Trump's Tuesday night speech to Congress, Twitter watchers were treated to a flurry of tweets, inspired by comments at the traditional lunch with network anchors, that the president was going to endorse something very much like the "comprehensive" immigration bills that foundered in Congress in 2006, 2007 and 2013.Who knew? Enforcing the law is deterring illegal crossings and giving incentives for self-deportation. It is likely to not only reduce crime, but also reduce benefit payments to those coming here illegally.
That was wishful thinking, by people discounting Trump's constant promises and stuck in the decade-ago mindset that spawned the "comprehensive" legislation, that in Trump's view would have legalized illegals immediately in return for promises, never to be fulfilled, of tough border and workplace enforcement later.
In the House chamber Trump made that clear as he spoke briefly but tellingly on immigration. He began not by calling for new legislation—the usual subject matter of such presidential addresses—but by describing what he is doing and what is happening now. His unstated subtext: facts on the ground have made the "comprehensive" model irrelevant.
Those facts are being affected by the orders he has issued in his first month in office, orders requiring stricter enforcement of current laws which previous administrations didn't choose to enforce.
The Trump Department of Homeland Security widened considerably the number of criminal offenses for which illegal immigrants can be deported. It abolished the Obama administration catch and release procedure. It ended the procedure of sending unaccompanied asylum-claiming teens (or purported teens) to distant towns with summonses—seldom obeyed—to appear for a hearing later.
These changes are bound to have the practical effect of deterring illegal border crossings and altering the plans of illegals currently in the United States. Even those who have never had a brush with law enforcement may calculate that relatively innocent behavior—having someone crash into your car after you've had a couple of beers—could trigger a sudden deportation.