President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to re-create immigration into a vehicle that helps, rather than hurts Americans, catapulted him into the White House. More than repealing and replacing Obamacare, more than withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and more than draining the swamp, enforcing immigration laws and securing the Southwest border put President Trump in the White House.
No surprise then that President Trump’s base watches his every immigration-related move. But almost three months into his administration, even some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters shake their heads. To be sure, President Trump has earned outstanding grades on converting some of his campaign pledges into reality. But the president has totally failed on his other key campaign pledges.
President Trump has been fulfilling his promise to rid the nation of criminal aliens. During the last two weeks, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 84 aliens during a three-day Pacific Northwest sweep; 82 aliens in a five-day action in the greater Washington, D.C. area, and during April’s first week ICE apprehended 368 criminals in seven states and the District of Columbia, a 250 percent increase over the previous week. The targets included aliens that had outstanding final deportation orders and MS-13 transnational gangsters charged with sex crimes against minors. Because of vigorous enforcement, illegal border crossings are, according to the Justice Department, down 60 percent.
On enforcement, then, President Trump earns a solid A grade. But, on the low-hanging fruit – ending deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) and mandating E-Verify, the free, online program which ensures that employees are legally authorized to work in the United States – President Trump has been curiously and infuriatingly silent.
The Pew Research Center estimates that 8 million illegal immigrants have jobs, many of them outside of agriculture. If President Trump wanted to prove his sincerity about his “hire American” campaign vow, he’d sent a message to Congress that E-Verify is a top priority. In past Congresses, E-Verify sailed through the House Judiciary Committee, but didn’t advance because Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan weren’t on board, possibly because they knew then-President Obama would veto it. But with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, E-Verify would be a cinch – assuming President Trump put his muscle behind it. The miserable March Bureau of Labor Statistics report which reflected a measly 98,000 jobs created is all the incentive President Trump should need.
President Trump’s DACA dithering may be an even deeper mystery than his E-Verify inaction. On the stump, candidate Trump promised repeatedly to end DACA and the employment authorization documents it grants “immediately.” Now that Trump is president, voiding President Obama’s unconstitutional executive action could be done in a matter of minutes. President Trump simply has to write a memo to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advising that new DACA applications and renewals are to be suspended immediately and indefinitely. Instead of decisive action to kill DACA that voters counted on, President Trump is content to continue with business as usual. According to USCIS statistics, for the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 (Oct. to Dec. 2016), there were 114,327 new applications and renewals filed. Between today and the end of 2019’s first quarter, three-quarters of a million DACA renewals will come due.
On E-verify and DACA, President Trump’s grade is a well-deserved F. President Trump hasn’t hit the 100-day mark yet, and he has plenty of time to make good. But a cautionary note to the chief executive: because voters feel that previous presidents have betrayed them on immigration for decades, carrying out promises to enact E-Verify and cancel DACA must be done quickly or you risk losing 2020 votes.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.