Cooper: Meanwhile, at the border ...

Cooper: Meanwhile, at the border ...

December 6th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrest an illegal immigrant in Norcross, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, in October.

Photo by MELISSA GOLDEN

Even if President Trump is able to sign a tax reduction bill by Christmas, you'll hear that the bill is his only major accomplishment of the year.

Although you shouldn't, you could brush aside many of his executive orders that reversed mistaken and misguided policies of the previous eight years.

But you'd still miss a big accomplishment — immigration enforcement — that was carried out without building Trump's desired wall.

We said early in the year the president could put a major dent in illegal immigration by enforcing current laws, turning back illegal immigrants at the border and deporting the illegal immigrants who it already had been determined needed to go, all without building the expensive and controversial Southern border wall.

In fact, that is what has happened.

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Border crossings, according to a recent U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) briefing, fell to a 45-year low during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and border arrests increased every month since May.

Meanwhile, ICE officers increased their arrests of people who were to be deported by 25 percent (including 40 percent after Trump took office over the same period last year) and upped their arrests of people away from the border 25 percent (37 percent after Trump took office over the same period last year).

"ICE will no longer exempt any class of removable alien from potential enforcement activity," Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told reporters during the briefing. "In other words, officers are empowered to do their sworn duty to enforce the law as it was written."

In February, the Department of Homeland Security announced the previous administration's instructions to limit deportations to public safety threats, convicted criminals and recent border crossers would be scrapped.

In essence, it was saying the government would begin following the law instead of enforcing only pieces of it that suited the occupant of the White House.

"We have clearly seen the successful results of the president's commitment to supporting the front-line officers and agents of [the Department of Homeland Security] as they enforce the law and secure our borders," acting secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement.

All the while, the wall, the importance of which the bellicose president extolled on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, hasn't had its first installment funded.

We hope the eight-plus months of the above numbers that occurred under Trump's watch will continue. With the addition of more border patrol agents and better technology, perhaps the rest of the wall may never need to be built and the U.S. can return to a country that welcomes the legal immigrant and upholds — not looks away from — its laws.

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