A number of times in the past, FAIR has pointed out that advocates for unlimited mass migration have a tendency to skew towards cognitive dissonance – the belief that two contradictory propositions are true. That alarming propensity seems to increase with each day that President Trump is in office.
A recent piece by the Marshall Project is a perfect example. Hyperbolically titled “Sending Even More Immigrants to Prison,” it advances the ridiculous notion that all immigration enforcement is a symptom of xenophobia, rather than a legitimate policy choice. Then it makes two wildly incongruous claims:
- First, the article states that the United States has always been tough on illegal immigration, prosecuting large numbers of illegal aliens for improper entry.
- Then the piece suggests that the Trump administration’s decision to continue using federal criminal prosecutions as a deterrent to illegal migration constitutes some type of radical change in policy.
But these claims can’t simultaneously be true. Either the Trump administration is departing radically from the traditional approaches to immigration enforcement or it isn’t. What does history say?
While U.S. Attorneys under the Obama administration may have prosecuted criminal aliens in federal court, President Obama’s incongruously-named “Priority Enforcement Program” prohibited U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from arresting all but the most violent alien felons. Similarly, the Obama administration instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to refrain from arresting most illegal aliens. Meanwhile, the majority of those who were arrested by CBP were promptly released to the interior of the United States. So even if the Obama Department of Justice did prosecute alien smugglers and human traffickers, it can hardly be said to have been tough on illegal aliens generally.
Compared to the Obama administration, which was fecklessly tolerant of alien criminals, suspected foreign terrorists and violent gang-members, Team Trump is branching out in a radical new direction. But it is only revolutionary when contrasted with the irresponsible migration policies of past chief executives. The Trump administration is simply applying our immigration laws the way Congress wrote them.
The number of immigration prosecutions in federal court do appear to have increased over the last year. But any current upsurge in federal court immigration prosecutions appears to be directly attributable to increases in illegal border crossings. In essence, more illegal aliens mean more prosecutions for improper entry. However, more prosecutions don’t indicate a decreased acceptance of immigrants, they simply mean reduced tolerance for immigration violators.
Of course, the Marshall Project refuses to accept the notion that deterring illegal border crossings is a legitimate immigration policy objective. It also fails to address the fact that reasons other than xenophobia – like public safety and national security – might serve as the basis for increasing immigration enforcement.
Because, doing so wouldn’t further the narrative that the Trump administration is at war with immigrants. And that narrative is the only tool available to the open-borders lobby when it tries to counter Team Trump’s immigration enforcement success stories.