Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen forcibly championed the rule of law against a roomful of elite reporters who urged her to “refrain,” “pause,” and “rethink” her execution of Congress’ laws.
“Here is the bottom line,” Nielsen told a roomful of reporters who were pushing the Democrats’ claim that President Donald Trump can and should stop the Executive Branch’s policy of enforcing Congress’ immigration laws.
DHS is no longer ignoring the law. We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books. As long as illegal entry remains a criminal offense, DHS will not look the other way. DHS will faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress, as we are sworn to do.
As I said earlier today, surely it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, instead of changing them, tells the enforcement body not to enforce the law. I ask Congress to act this week [on proposed laws] so that we can secure our borders and uphold our humanitarian ideals.
Under Trump’s strict enforcement policies, officials are charging all illegal border-crossers with crimes. Once migrants face criminal charges, they are detained while their children are moved to shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. Officials hope that the enforcement of the law will reduce the northward migration of poor people seeking jobs in the U.S. labor market.
The sudden enforcement of popular immigration laws is a shock to the media, partly because immigration laws have rarely been enforced during the last 30 years, so forcing down the wages of the blue-collar workers who provide myriad services to upper-income Americans each day.
For example, former President Barack Obama largely ended the deportation of illegals living in the United States and actually gave work permits and Social Security Numbers to almost 800,000 ‘DACA’ illegals. He pushed to give work-permits to roughly 3 million older ‘DAPA’ illegals but was stopped by the courts, not the GOP, many of whose donors and legislators tacitly support cheap-labor illegal immigration.
In the press room, Nielsen faced down reporters who suggested that her enforcement of the border laws is optional, driven by politics, or is child abuse, and that the Executive Branch should unilaterally “pause,” “rethink,” “refrain,” or stop enforcing Congress’ law:
Q I mean, that is the big message here. Members of Congress on the Democratic side say that you’re using children as a lever to try to get them to take legislative action. What do you say to that? … And this policy is not, by your definition, in any way, cruel?
SECRETARY NIELSEN: It’s not a policy. Our policy at DHS is to do what we’re sworn to do, which is to enforce the law …
Q Yeah. Madam Secretary, President Trump has had a lot to say the last few days about immigration, but he’s offered no compassion to the families that are being separated at the border. Do you know why that is? And why won’t he simply pause your department’s enforcement of this administration policy until Congress reaches that long-term fix so that these families can be reunited?
SECRETARY NIELSEN: He has been attempting to work with Congress since he’s been in office. He’s made it very clear that we will enforce the laws of the United States as long as this administration is here.
Q … given the blowback by a number of Republicans as well as Democrats, are you considering rethinking this based on feedback? Or is this the administration’s position going forward — period, paragraph?
SECRETARY NIELSEN: The laws prohibit us from detaining families while they go through prosecution for illegally entering the border, and while they go through prosecutions for immigration proceedings…
Q Thank you very much. Are you intending for this to play out as it is playing out? Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?
SECRETARY NIELSEN: I find that offensive. No. Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that? … But the answer is, it’s a law passed by the United States Congress. Rather than fixing the law, Congress is asking those of us who enforce the law to turn our backs on the law and not enforce the law. It’s not an answer. The answer is to fix the laws.
Q Will the administration refrain from its current policy if Congress were to pass something that’s close to what you want? Or will it continue to require the separation of parents from their children until the President gets exactly what he wants?
SECRETARY NIELSEN: If Congress closes the loopholes, some of which — many of which are closed in the two bills that we hope are taken up this week by the House, then they close the loopholes and the families will stay together throughout the proceedings.
Throughout the press event, Nielsen had to remind the reporters that she is obliged to execute laws passed by Congress, even if she opposes the laws. She said:
“The laws prohibit us from detaining families while they go through prosecution for illegally entering the border, and while they go through prosecutions for immigration proceedings. If we close the loopholes, we can keep the families together, which is what they did in the last administration until a court ruled that we can no longer do that. After 20 days, we have to release both unaccompanied children and accompanied children — which means that we cannot detain families together. The only option is to not enforce the law at all.”
“We no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law. Everyone is subject to prosecution.”
“That is in accordance with the TVPRA — a law that was passed by Congress — and a following court order, neither which are actions the Trump administration has taken.”
“Let’s be clear: If an American were to commit a crime anywhere in the United States, they would go to jail and they would be separated from their family. This is not a controversial idea.”
“Parents who entered illegally are, by definition, criminals. Illegal entry is a crime as determined by Congress. By entering our country illegally, often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.”
‘The answer is, it’s a law passed by the United States Congress. Rather than fixing the law, Congress is asking those of us who enforce the law to turn our backs on the law and not enforce the law. It’s not an answer. The answer is to fix the laws.”
“If Congress closes the loopholes, some of which — many of which are closed in the two bills that we hope are taken up this week by the House, then they close the loopholes and the families will stay together throughout the proceedings.”
Amid the media uproar, 49 Democratic Senators have co-sponsored a bill which would block border enforcement and allow millions of young men and women easy access to the U.S. job market, providing they also bring a child. California’s Sen. Diane Feinstein’s “Keep Families Together Act” would bar law-enforcement officials from detaining migrants who bring children northwards. The draft bill says:
An agent or officer of a designated agency shall be prohibited from removing a child from his or her parent or legal guardian, at or near the port of entry or within 100 miles of the border of the United States …
Many of the manual jobs sought by migrants deliver cheap services to upper-income Americans, such as D.C. professionals. Those services include bussing restaurant tables, dry-cleaning clothes, mowing lawns, and cleaning wine glasses.
If allowed, most of the migrants will work long hours at wages far lower than those needed by blue-collar Americans, partly because many of the migrants are in bondage debt to the violent cartels who let them pass through their border territory. Nationwide, roughly 8 million illegals immigrants — plus roughly 400,000 Central Americans who have filed for asylum — are already helping to hold down blue-collar wages.
Despite media protests, the border laws are very popular, partly because the public does not want their wages and salaries pushed down by a wage of cheap migrants. However, many Americans also sympathize with the migrants and are reluctant to see them excluded.
In 2014, this tension snapped amid a huge inrush of more than 100,000 migrants who were encouraged by former President Barack Obama’s pro-migration policies. Public opinion turned sharply against the migrants and Obama’s ratings crashed by 25 points. In late July of 2014, Obama’s border policies were opposed by 58 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents. An AP/GFK poll in July showed 57 percent strong disapproval of his border policies. A Fox poll in July showed that 52 percent of independents said the “children” should be sent home “as soon as possible.” A July 31 Washington Post article said “Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama’s worst issue — definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency.”