The following is the majority of my briefing paper to the Trump transition on key border security actions, to be taken in the early days and weeks of the administration.
A Presidential Transition Briefing
“How to Immediately Secure Our Border”
Executive Actions to Build the Wall and Strengthen Border Security
Building the wall was one of President Donald Trump’s most important promises, however it is essential to complete the entire wall within his first term. This was a very specific campaign promise, and like Bush 41’s “read my lips” promise, insufficient action would risk public anger. If the wall is not completed and Trump does not run or is defeated in 2020, the next president could easily halt construction and reopen the border.
Once completed, the wall would be harder to tear down by a future president because the public will learn to feel secure with it. America won World War II and built tens of thousands of ships, tanks, and airplanes—all in less than four years. We landed Americans on the Moon in just eight years. Therefore, building the wall in four years would be simpler by orders of magnitude.
This paper does not address the already well-discussed options of increasing deportations of criminal and other illegals, repealing DACA, and halting refugees from terror strongholds.
The actions I have detailed here are highly effective border security actions that can be initiated by presidential signatures in the first days and weeks of the new administration. Each would greatly improve our national security, as well as to demonstrate to the country and the world that this president means what he says:
- Enforcement Warning
- Deploy the National Guard to the Border
- Start Building Previously-Authorized 700-850 Miles of Border Fencing
- Outlaw Sanctuary Cities and all other aid and comfort for illegals
- Block False Asylum Seekers
- Abolish the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program
- Instruct the Attorney General to arrange the return of criminal aliens
- Launch a Public Website
The Border Security Action Agenda
- Enforcement Warning:
The administration should make a public announcement that, effective immediately, all immigration laws will be strictly enforced, that security at the border will be dramatically increased, and that asylum-seekers will again be detained until their hearing.
This statement alone will scare away many who are heading to the border. This message does not necessarily need to be made by the president himself.
- Deploy the National Guard to the Border:
The president should sign an executive order to deploy many thousands of National Guard troops to protect the border. The presence of additional forces at the border’s weakest points will deter countless illegals, drug smugglers, human traffickers, terrorists and gang members from even approaching our border, and they would arrest those ignore the warnings and do cross.
PR opportunity: the president should ask people to join the National Guard if they would like to help protect our border, and post the application link on the White House website.
- Start Building the 700-850 Miles of Previously-Authorized Fencing:
The president should sign an executive order to start building the border fencing authorized by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008.
These laws authorized construction of 700-850 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as “physical barriers” which could be construed to be a wall. IIRIRA Section 102(a) does not limit what form physical barriers may take.
About 36 miles of fencing following the requirements were built, offering the ability to build a wall or fencing on 664-814 miles of the border without further authorizations.
Current and unobligated prior year balances of appropriated funds for border security could be used to start immediate construction until Congress approves the full funding.
Other funds from DoD, DHS or other agencies might be used by declaring constructing the wall to be a national security emergency.
Note: Congress amended IIRIRA Section 102(c) via the REAL ID Act of 2005 to permit the Secretary of DHS to waive “all legal requirements” necessary to ensure expeditious construction of border barriers. This may mean that construction could not be delayed by environmental impact statements and lawsuits by leftist activists. This amendment could save years of bureaucratic delays and legal battles.
PR opportunity: post a link to apply for jobs building the wall on the White House website. This will help involve the public and offer a way for people to get a job building the wall. If the jobs are just buried on the USAJobs.gov site, few will discover them. The construction should be made highly visible.
- Outlaw Sanctuary Cities and All Other Aid and Comfort for Illegals:
The president should sign an executive order to instruct all law enforcement agencies to fully enforce 8 U.S. Code § 1324 – “Bringing in and harboring certain aliens.” www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1324
This law outlaws any harboring of and aid to illegals, and would be immediately applicable to sanctuary cities.
The law is very wide in scope, and allows for criminal prosecution of any person or official who knowingly aids illegals in any way.
If necessary, request Congress pass additional legislative remedies, such as S.1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act.”
- Block False Asylum Seekers:
The president should sign an executive order to repeal two Obama regulations which increased asylum seekers from 8,000 in 2009 to 80,000 in 2015, primarily due to a 2009 Obama regulation allowing seekers to enter the country rather than being detained–and trusting they will return for their scheduled asylum hearing.
Rather than hide from border patrols, illegals seek them out and say the “secret password” that they have “credible fear” of violence if they return home, and are admitted to the U.S. and trusted to report back in many months for a hearing.
By repealing the regulation, true asylum seekers will still receive protection, but illegals will return home rather than face detention and a enforced attendance at a hearing that could expose their false claims of having a credible fear of violence. Repealing this regulation restores enforcement of the original law.
The second regulation allows easier admittance by persons with some connection to terrorism. Repealing it will enhance our security against terrorists entering the U.S.
- Abolish the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program:
The president should sign an executive order to repeal the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program, which has contributed to the growth of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. from 8,000 in 2008 to 69,000 in 2014. The CAM in-country centers are a magnet for minors in Central America seeking to be granted expedited admission the U.S., and they are often flown to the U.S. at taxpayers’ expense and given resettlement money and benefits.
The CAM has inspired tens of thousands more minors to make the dangerous trek to cross the Mexican border and turn themselves in to border officials for almost-certain admittance and then resettlement and eligibility for benefits in the U.S.
- Arrange the Return:
The president should instruct the Attorney General to contact his counterparts in foreign countries to arrange the return of their citizens who would be deported from the U.S.
- Public Website:
The administration should launch a border security website that explains to the American people the goals for building the wall and shows photos, videos and statistics of border crossings by illegals.
The website would show progress as border security increases and the construction of the wall commences.
The name might be SecureBorder.gov or BuildTheWall.gov. The website would feature webcams placed on the border which would be easily embeddable and linkable by other websites and on social media. The goal is to help maintain and increase public support by showing that the border is in fact being flooded with illegals, and that the president is making progress to secure it. As criminal illegals are arrested and deported, the statistics could be posted on the site.
By enacting these simple reforms in his first days and weeks in office, President Trump would make dramatic progress in securing our border with Mexico, as well as taking the first steps to actually build the wall.
Art Harman was the Legislative Director for Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) in the 113th Congress and is a veteran policy analyst and grass-roots political expert. His expertise includes foreign relations, border security/amnesty, national security, and NASA/space policy. Harman developed the strategy to kill the 2013 Senate “gang of eight” amnesty bill as violating the Origination Clause, and provided policy advice to the Trump campaign and transition. He is a frequent guest on radio shows on key policy issues.