Donald Trump Drops ICE Nominee: ‘We’re Going in a Tougher Direction’

Saturday, April 6, 2019
By Paul Martin

6 Apr 2019

The border agencies need tougher leadership, President Donald Trump declared Friday as he dropped plans to appoint a long-time agency staffer to run the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

“Ron [Vitiello is] a good man,” Trump told reporters. “But we’re going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction.”

Trump’s “tougher direction” statement suggests he may pressure Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to implement policies that top agency staffers oppose, such as rejecting legal interpretations and bureaucratic practices set by former President Barack Obama. Immigration reformers blame those Obama policies for encouraging the wave of economic migrants from Central America.

The shift comes amid the growing wave of Central American economic migrants who are using Obama-era legal loopholes to walk through the border wall and into jobs, neighborhoods, and blue-collar schools throughout the United States. That wave is expected to deliver one million migrants into the United States by October, and it is made possible because Democrats are blocking any reform the border loopholes.

Immigration reformers fear that Obama-appointed staffers and former business lobbyists are keeping Trump in the dark about ways to improve operation at the DHS.

“I don’t now know if the President is getting the information he needs about what powers he has,” according to Rosemary Jenks, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Secretary Nielsen and some of the attorneys in DHS are blocking the information because they are afraid of implementing some of the things they can do,” partly because they are afraid of lawsuits, she said.

For example, many so-called “Unaccompanied Alien Children” are being smuggled up the border because Trump’s agencies will pass them to their illegal immigrant parents living throughout the United States, under policies set by Obama. But those youths and children should be sent home, said Jenks, because the 2008 law only protects trafficked victims, such as forced prostitutes, not youths and children who have parents in the United States or who are willingly smuggled up to the border.

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