Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.
President Trump is very good at talking tough on immigration issues. However, his ability to actually implement anti-immigration policies has often been impeded by judicial opposition, practical limitations, and poor timing. Such practical limitations and poor timing again may be obstacles with respect to the “tweet” by President Trump on June 17 that threatens to deport “millions of illegal aliens”.
President Trump specifically “tweeted”, “Next week ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people . . . long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!”
In clarifying President Trump’s “tweet”, a Trump administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, stated, “There are more than 1 million illegal aliens who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country. These judicial removal orders were secured at great time and expense, and yet illegal aliens not only refuse to appear in court, they often obtain fraudulent identities, collect federal welfare, and illegally work in the United States. Enforcing these final judicial orders is a top priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement – willful defiance of our laws and the defrauding of the American People with fraudulent asylum claims will not be tolerated”.
According to an unnamed adviser to the Department of Homeland Security, it appears that the threatened deportations generally will focus on undocumented immigrants who have not been showing up to court (generally more recent arrivals in the United States)
However, one problem with President Trump’s “tweet” may be practical limitations. Deporting “millions of illegal aliens” may not be feasible given the vast financial, “detention space”, and manpower resources that it would require and other pending issues. Congress and President Trump have previously clashed over how much money in the Federal budget should be allocated for immigration enforcement, and ICE has diverted a significant amount of its housing facilities and personnel to handle the influx of refugees trying to come into the United States at the U.S. southern border, both issues making it even less likely that there would be available the necessary money, property, and people to deport “millions of illegal aliens”.
In addition, a second problem with President Trump’s “tweet” may be poor timing. By announcing the threatened deportation in advance, President Trump gave notice to the “illegal aliens”, and they can begin to prepare to hide from any ICE “raid”. The element of surprise, which would likely make any ICE “raid” of “illegal aliens” more successful, is gone.
On the other hand, some commentators believe that the true purpose of President Trump’s “tweet” is deterrence; rather than deportation of existing “illegal aliens”, President Trump is trying to discourage more foreigners from coming to the United States. If such assessment is correct, the timing of President Trump’s “tweet” possibly could be effective to slow the above-described influx of refugees at the U.S. southern border.
We should also remember President Trump’s multiple campaign promises when he was running as a candidate for president to immediately deport millions of undocumented immigrants upon taking office; President Trump did not deliver on these campaign promises upon taking office.
Other observers have commented that President Trump’s “tweet” was more about political strategy than anti-immigration policy. The “tweet” came 1 day before President Trump announced his candidacy for re-election, and the rhetoric of such an expansive deportation threat is expected to mobilize his political “base” for the upcoming election.
The above discussion suggests that it is unclear whether or not President Trump can actually deliver on his “tweet” to deport “millions of illegal aliens”.
However, whether there is ultimately the deportation of millions or thousands or even only hundreds of undocumented immigrants, there can be no doubt that his “tweet” is symbolic of the anti-immigration environment that President Trump has created. As described above, besides practical limitations and poor timing, judicial opposition can be a restraint on President Trump’s anti-immigration policies. To take advantage of judicial opposition, immigrants need to hire skilled immigration counsel, such as Kameli Law, which has many years of successful experience in defending the rights of immigrants. If you are having a problem with any anti-immigration policy of the Trump administration, please contact the Kameli Law, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-233-1000, for help.