Once upon a time in a less politically correct era, the United States enforced its immigration laws. Dedicated agents patrolled the border, and actively pursued aliens unlawfully residing in the interior. But since President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Services, General “Jumping” Joe Swing, left office in 1961, interior enforcement has slowly disappeared despite its importance as a deterrent to illegal entry. Swing had been President Eisenhower’s right-hand man in World War II, served in World War I, and was credited with vigorous immigration enforcement during his eight-year tenure as INS chief.
Fifty years later, under President Barack Obama, enforcement became a nonstarter. The Congressional Research Service found that the Department of Homeland Security arrested less than 0.6 percent of the 8.3 million employed illegal immigrants. Their employers were less likely to be fined (0.1 percent), even though hiring illegal aliens is a crime.
Through social media and via word of mouth delivered by friends and family, prospective illegal immigrants became aware that unlawful entry would have few consequences. And they were right. In 2014 and 2015, emboldened by lax enforcement, 1.1 million illegal immigrants arrived, a significant increase over prior years. Catch-and-release highlighted the Obama administration’s disinterest in enforcement.
During his congressional testimony, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said that the Obama White House had ordered that unaccompanied minors, family units, credible fear claimants and single males attesting to being in the country since 2014 be released and, in some cases, transported to their final destinations.
Meaningful immigration enforcement can’t be achieved without local police help. To that end, Congress introduced the Davis-Oliver Act that will crack down on dangerous sanctuary city policies to protect American communities from dangerous criminal aliens. Named in honor of Placer County, Calif., Detective Michael Davis, Jr. and Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver, murdered in October 2014 by a twice-deported criminal alien with a long rap sheet, the legislation bolsters federal immigration law enforcement and enhances public safety.
The Davis-Oliver Act would also strengthen national security through more comprehensive vetting of visa-seeking foreign nationals, and could therefore reduce the probability terrorists can enter the U.S. Other provisions in the Davis-Oliver Act would authorize states and local jurisdictions to pass and enforce immigration laws that are consistent with federal law, expand the list of deportable offenses, accelerate expedited removal, and authorize hiring 12,500 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Most important, as House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and Davis-Oliver cosponsor noted, the bill “ensures that no future administration can unilaterally stop the enforcement of our immigration laws.” Goodlatte’s not-too-subtle reference is to the Obama administration that, during eight years in power, systematically dismantled immigration law.
Republicans control Congress and the White House; failure to sign the Davis-Oliver Act into law would be an inexcusable dereliction of duty to Americans who voted for President Trump and his enforcement platform.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.