Deterrence Works, Now Stop It!



Both The Atlantic and the Washington Post are now whining that the Trump administration is resorting to “cruelty” in order to deter illegal alien families from attempting to enter the U.S. unlawful. This is only the latest chapter in the “Trump hates immigrants” soap opera that the mainstream media has become.

What is the Trump administration doing that is so abominably heartless? It has proposed that when illegal alien families arrive at the border, adults should be kept in federal custody, while children are housed in Department of Health and Human Services facilities, or with American foster families.

To those unfamiliar with conditions along the southern border of the United States, that may seem unnecessary. But it’s not uncommon for alien smugglers and sex traffickers to pose as family units in order to access the United States. According to CNN, “Human trafficking has become a trade so lucrative and prevalent, that it knows no borders and links towns in central Mexico with cities like Atlanta and New York.”

There is a legitimate public safety reason for pursuing an updated family detention policy. Immigration fraud in support of wider criminal conspiracies is a daily occurrence at all U.S. ports of entry. So, keeping children with their alleged “parents” can often mean leaving them with criminal poseurs who wish to exploit them. A brief separation gives the Department of Homeland Security an opportunity to verify claims of parentage and enables law enforcement authorities to remove child victims from the clutches of smugglers and traffickers.

But it cannot be denied that placing illegal alien parents in federal lockups – rather than housing them at taxpayer expense in family detention centers that look like cushy college dorms – is likely to have a deterrent effect. And that’s what has provoked both The Atlantic and the Post into foaming fits of invective.

According to The Atlantic, “The United States has long relied on deterrence policy as a way of dissuading migrants from entering the country illegally. This has been true under Democratic and Republican administrations alike.” The Post makes similar arguments.

But The Atlantic, and the Post, have gotten it exactly wrong. Deterrence isn’t a policy. It is the natural effect of vigorous adherence to the rule of law. Currently, we don’t have deterrence because too many Democratic and Republican administrations have played fast and loose with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The net result has always been a clear message to would-be illegal aliens that there are no consequences for violating our immigration laws.

Those days are over. When citizens elected Donald Trump, they sent a clear message to Washington that they no longer want criminals and illegal aliens running America’s borders. President Trump paid attention. Far from being cruel, the proposed family detention policy actually brings us one step closer to ensuring that alien smugglers and child sex traffickers don’t permanently separate would-be immigrant families. And it does so by putting the safety and security needs of Americans first.

About Author

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Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats.

He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.

7 Comments

  1. avatar

    There’s no reason for them to even come here. They’re not persecuted, not seeking asylum, and not necessary. They just want what we have, for free. While the organizations want something else – to change America into THEIR country! We don’t need them. WE DON’T WANT THEM. And ALL ILLEGALS MUST BE DEPORTED – NOW!

  2. avatar

    ILLEGALS n DACA should be sent back the same way they got here. SNEAK OUT NOW!
    WHY IS THIS OUR PROBLEM?
    THEY all got here somehow n can go back the same way! Why should we foot the bill?
    There are bridges to use. And shallow rivers to cross…..WE AREN’T HERE TO MAKE THEIR LIVES BETTER!
    WE ARE HERE TO MAKE THE AMERICAN CITIZEN BETTER.
    WE did not invite them in n especially. Not illegally. I for one do not feel sorry or guilty….THEY SHOULD….THEY CREATED THIS CRISIS!
    NOW LET THEM FIX IT! THEY HAVE FAMILY STILL BACK THERE….GO IMPOSE ON THEM……WE NEED A CLEAN COUNTRY N TO START OVER USING THE LAWS WE HAVE HAD FOR YEARS! IF YOU ARE ILLEGAL YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT HERE FOR ANYTHING BUT FREEBIES WHICH NOW YOU EXPECT.
    YOU TOOK COLLEGE OUT OF MY SON’S FUTURE WITH YOUR DACA……IT’S TO LATE TO PAY BACK EXCEPT GO BACK N SPREAD WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED TO YOUR OWN PEOPLE N LET US GO BACK TO AMERiCANS FIRST!
    No more “hidden” deals payed for with our NEEDS! WE COME FIRST…..WE WORKED FOR WHAT YOU RECEIVED….
    NO MORE! Go home n work for it like we thought we were….Thought we were!!!!!
    NO more ILLEGALS, criminals or not cause you are ILLEGALS! YOU SNEAK IN N YOU ARE A criminal!
    Just go home n pay for it yourself! YOU KNOW HOW OBVIOUSLY!

  3. avatar

    I am sorry, but I cannot agree with your solution unless the people, including the children, are returned to their country immediately. I am aware that I sound heartless about the children but I am not. My first thoughts are about the millions of our own children that have to survive in horrible situations and we should be caring for them before any others. We simply cannot be saviour yyo the world but we should certainly be to our own. It is shameful that we allow our country to be overrun by foreign illegals costing us billions of dollars every year instead of taking care of our own American families first always. There simply is no acceptable excuse for this horrible action by our government. A man that does not take care of his family is a failure and a loser. And a nation thsst does not take care of all its own people is becoming a loser country and will ultimately fail as a nation.

    • avatar

      I completely agree with you, Marilyn. They don’t need to be here and we don’t need them. And we don’t want them. No illegals, not DACA, no DREAM Act = fewer crimes, diseases, and taxpayer debt. They MUST all be deported and not permitted to return. Illegal means illegal. Even legal immigrants in America don’t want them. None of them no matter how young. Charity begins at home and the homes of too many American children have empty cupboards. Trump’s suggestion of helping them in their own country is a brilliant idea. Too brilliant for the mentally unstable left to understand.

  4. avatar

    We have too many immigrants here in the United States from Mexico they are taking over our neighborhoods our jobs our schools a burden to our hospitals burden to the taxpayers and a burden to our government assistance everyday you see Americans on the street homeless veterans old people young people all without a job on the streets immigrants from Mexico just better than American people they have the American people’s jobs these immigrants from Mexico have Baker kids are taking over our neighborhood our country and destroying our way of living as American people these people from Mexico and their anchor kids refuse to buy by our American laws thank your kids and their prayers for Mexico thanks the American people owes them something they should learn how to speak English if they want to stay they should learn our way of living in the United States are laws in our custom and learn English the people that does not work or not holding a job down has a green card they should have to go back to Mexico and should not live here permanently unless they take the citizenship and learn English if they do not pass they need to go back home to Mexico until they tell you when they do get a position in hiring at a job they only hired their own kind American people dream is gone our way of living are homes in the neighborhood has gone these immigrants comes to our country they take over our jobs and our homes in our neighborhoods American people does not have a dream no more it’s cross the United States thanks for kids and their parents have more rights than American people are chills are schools overpopulated will it is time to look out for the American people if not the American people are going to eventually rise up and vote against these people that’s up in the office at the Congress and Senate and the house usually they will be voted out actually they will lose their job American people are tired of this they want these people out of here across the border and stay where they belong we have enough anchor kids here to do the job we do not really need no more green cards no more people coming from Mexico it needs to be stopped there overpopulating it not enough Jobs go around for the American people we need to quit thinking of these immigrants first we need to think about our own American people still letting them in our country let’s start sending them back home to Mexico they do not work need to go home they go to jail they need to go back to Mexico I should not have no rights in this country American people should come first our rights our way of living our cultural and our laws should come first before these immigrants was forced immigration law no and anstey instead of keeping these kids here that come here illegally it’s time to send them home to their parents are to their government in Mexico we cannot take care of these people no more we are going broke in the United States in Mexico knows it start send them home cancel them green cards we have enough anchor kids here now they’re overpopulating the country