Fidelity is scarce in Donald Trump’s Washington, except among the not so loyal opposition. Whether owing to compassion or incompetence, the Trump administration one year on has failed to replace holdovers, leaving in place Barack Obama’s people who are dedicated to obstruction and delay of the new era. In some federal departments, the greatest danger a bureaucrat faces is a paper cut. But about immigration, it’s whether the laws enacted to protect the American people will be enforced.
Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), tasked with enforcing the immigration laws, say their work is undermined by employees put in supervisory positions during the Obama administration who are trying to protect and enforce the former president’s aims and policies. Law enforcement officers who confront harm and death should not have to wrestle with the mischief of rogue superiors. The death of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez and injury of his partner, apparently at the hands of prospective illegal aliens on the Texas-Mexico border, is a painful reminder of the hazards border agents face.
So severe is the impact of Obama loyalists, reports our Stephen Dinan, that agents have established their own whistleblower website to detail examples of being forced to follow dangerous procedures, or blocked from carrying out their duties. From ICE agents ordered to remove their body armor when arresting illegals in Philadelphia, to officers in Utah forced to tip off city officials in advance of taking illegals into custody, the playing field has been tipped in favor of the lawless by remnants of the management lately expired.
The desk where Harry S Truman famously said the buck stops now belongs to Donald Trump, and it’s his failure to ride herd over his administration that is demoralizing agents. “ICE Officers grudgingly admit that the only president they ever endorsed hasn’t kept his word, and many officers now feel betrayed,” contributors to the website say.
In Texas, a policy of catch-and-release is back in play as ICE agents are told not to bother detaining border-crossers because of a lack of beds in detention quarters. Following Mr. Trump’s election, prospective illegal immigrants once eager to risk the journey to the north slowed to a trickle, a relatively modest 11,000 in April. But heartened by the new administration’s inability to manage the border, the flow doubled to 26,000 in October.
The resumption of unmanageable waves of illegals crossing into the United States is an echo of the Obama years, when Border Patrol agents were instructed to treat anyone who showed up on the nation’s doorstep as a refugee, not a lawbreaker.
It’s an encouraging sign that pushback is shaking the confidence of lawless sanctuary jurisdictions that proliferated during the Obama years. The Justice Department has informed 29 localities in 13 states and the District of Columbia that their violation of federal law could render them ineligible for federal enforcement grants, and even require them to pay back money they received in the past. Some jurisdictions are suing the Justice Department on grounds that only Congress can restrict funds. Other cities, including Las Vegas and Miami, are complying.
President Trump must go beyond merely tweeting a vow to build the wall to make sure the rule of law is upheld at the nation’s borders, and the bureaucrats who undermine the president’s authority must be escorted to the door without ceremony. Lincoln’s warning on the eve of the Civil War still applies: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
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