Trump Administration Moves Forward Without Congress, But is it Enough?
By Heather Ham-Warren | April 12, 2018
With Congress seemingly unable to advance any meaningful immigration legislation, the Trump administration is utilizing its authority to strengthen and enforce immigration laws already on the books.
First, the Justice Department implemented a zero-tolerance policy for certain immigration-related offenses referred for prosecution. Shortly after, the White House announced that is moving to end “catch and release,” the dangerous practice whereby illegal aliens are released into the United States after they are apprehended.
In April 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors along the Southwest Border directing them to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop guidelines for prosecuting offenses under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), which prohibits both the attempted illegal entry and the illegal entry of an alien into the United States. However, the directive did little to deter illegal immigration. In fact, data recently released from DHS demonstrates that illegal border crossings actually increased 203 percent from March 2017 to March 2018. Undoubtedly, this statistic laid the groundwork for Sessions’ newest directive: instructing federal prosecutors along the Southwest border to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution under section 1325(a).
In a similar vein, this week President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to bring an end to “catch and release” — a policy that was expanded under the Obama administration and serves as a pull factor that encourages more illegal immigration. Under the President’s memorandum, the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, and Health and Human Services are required to submit reports outlining past and ongoing efforts to end catch and release; detailing what additional resources or authorities are needed to achieve this goal; and organizing all current measures in effect to ensure that removable aliens are returned to their home countries.
While the Administration’s actions are laudable, alone they are insufficient to quell illegal immigration. Today, DHS lacks the sufficient funding and resources to ensure detention space and meet operational needs—an issue that Congress must use the power of the purse to rectify. Additionally, there are dangerous loopholes in our asylum and trafficking laws which are frequently exploited by fraudulent individuals and groups. However, only Congress can tighten these misapplications.
To view Attorney General Sessions Memorandum, please go here.
To view the full statement from the White House, please go here.