You may have heard this before: A high-level Trump official is departing from the administration. This time it’s Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen in the form of a resignation. As usual, her departure was marked by publicly supportive comments that hint at an amicable separation, but an obvious undertone of the dissent that point to the reason for the departure.
Reportedly, Trump wanted to dump detained immigrants at detained the border into “sanctuary cities”, cities who municipal laws tend to protect immigrants from deportation and federal regulations. Apparently, Trump wanted to send all the border detainees to those cities as retaliation for liberal opposition against his border-wall proposal. Nielsen and the rest of the department of homeland security killed this plan.
Long story short Trump wants to get tougher on immigration and the DHS at times has been an obstacle for this.
But what does this mean? How does an openly anti-immigration President get even tougher on immigration?
The Border Wall
Obviously. This has been president Trump’s primary goal since taking office. Trump didn’t need to purge anyone for this option to be on the table. It’s been on the table for two years now.
Closing the border
Trump threatened to close the border altogether. This would be extremely difficult to do but it is not totally without precedent. However, even if it could be done logistically, the effects economically may be untenable for any significant amount of time.
Zero tolerance policies
Anytime someone uses the phrase “zero-tolerance” advocates are going to raise eyebrows because it usually implies punishing people for relatively benign offenses without taking context or situation into consideration… and that is exactly what it means here. Zero-tolerance on the border means criminally prosecuting anyone caught crossing the border illegally. Which last time led to separating children from their parents as they went through the system.
For a variety of reasons completely ending asylum isn’t something Trump or anyone else has the ability to actually do. But they can certainly make it significantly harder which appears to be the main goal. Stricter scrutiny in regard to asylum seekers cases would be the primary way to reduce numbers of admitted asylum seekers but it wouldn’t solve the number of seekers in general which is another annoyance of the Trump administration.
Tough on foreign trade
As Trump has done with other countries, he may seek to add more tariffs to products coming from Mexico. He has already threatened a 25% tariff on cars coming from Mexico. Traditional economic wisdom says that tariffs are bad for the economy, but it has become clear that Trump does not share this view.
Nobody knows for sure exactly what President Trump will do but it is becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats are playing it cool. This is easy to spot. Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s biggest opponent, was critical of his anti-immigrant rhetoric but hasn’t called foul about the departures and hasn’t exactly raised hell about the policy aspect of Trump getting stricter at the border. She simply said that she still hopes to partner with Trump in finding a solution.
This tone is not on accident. Democrats don’t exactly know what to do. They won the house on health-care and economy. The immigration debate hasn’t been a huge driver for them. It is a winning issue for him though. Also, there is an objectively large number people attempting to navigate the dysfunctional US immigration system every day with poor results and Democrats haven’t really presented their own plan to fix it outside of reform-minded overhauls to the entire immigration system which never seem to make progress towards actually passing in the current political climate.
It’s possible that when Trump makes his plans more clear and gets closer to realizing them Democrats will be more outspoken. But as of now, there seems to be a slight atmosphere of appeasement in regard to his newest declaration. Which may be smart politically, but probably won’t go over well with the immigrants and minority families they have in their base. It would behoove liberals to craft a better strategy and plan to combat what they know will be coming from the White House.