President Trump’s administration is pursuing an “aggressive effort” in a crackdown on illegal immigration which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said has reached the level of a “Cat 5 hurricane disaster.”
This crisis was likened to a catastrophic disaster by Nielson as she spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Tuesday, on the situation along the southern U.S. border.
“We are bringing all of the agencies together, we’re asking everybody to chip in,” Nielsen said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
The president repeated his threat to close down the border this week, calling on Mexico to use its own “strong” immigration laws in the effort to combat illegal immigration.
And Mexican officials have sounded the alarm over the forming of another potential caravan of people from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which they believe could reach about 20,000 in number. Trump also cut aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we’re not paying them anymore. Because they haven’t done a thing for us. They set up these caravans,” he said.
Trump’s renewed threat to shut down the southern border came as U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that March was on track to become “the highest month” for border apprehensions in over a decade.
“We’re going to have a strong border, or we’re going to have a closed border,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
Carlson questioned Nielsen about some of the administration’s plans, asking “Why wouldn’t we put the U.S. military along our border if it’s really a crisis of that magnitude?”
“I think we’re looking into that. We’ve made the request. I’m in constant contact with the acting secretary of defense. I talked to some of the combatant commanders today. We are in fact pushing more and more military resources to the border,” Nielsen replied.
She also indicated that other options, such as signing an order to end “birthright” citizenship and expanding the E-Verify system are under consideration.
“We have to stop the drugs. We have to stop the smuggling and trafficking gangs. He’s very serious about it, so yes, I think everything is on the table,” Nielsen said.
As the White House prepares for a possible shutdown of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, there is also an ongoing effort to utilize the authorities in existing laws to more vigorously combat illegal immigration and legal immigration fraud, senior adviser Stephen Miller told The Daily Caller.
“There’s going to be an aggressive effort to utilize every existing authority in statute,” the senior adviser to the president said, pointing to existing immigration laws, such as the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which are being explored.
The White House is “systematically reviewing all authorities that are already on the books, both in terms of cracking down on illegal immigration and […] the abuse of our legal immigration system,” Miller said, such as immigrants who overstay their visas and “combating or addressing legal benefit seeking in the legal immigration system.”
Miller pointed out an existing statute in a law, mandating a “significant financial penalty” for each day that an immigrant stays in the country after being ordered removed, as an example of executive action that can be taken by the Trump administration as it seeks to deal with about one million illegal immigrants at large in the U.S. who have already been issued final removal orders.
“This law has been on the books for a very long time and has not been utilized. That’s the example of the kind of legal authority that already exists that is the kind of thing we can deploy to restore integrity to the immigration system,” Miller said.
Though he did not specify a timeline for the roll-out of the more aggressive actions, Miller noted that “this is going to begin right away.”
With an eye on more assertively targeting abuses such as “welfare seeking” by legal immigrants or “welfare tourism,” Miller expounded on the goal which is to “dramatically raise the pressure on Congress and, in particular, the congressional Democrats” to pass laws reforming the U.S. immigration system.
The latest push to more fervently target abuses comes after many actions already undertaken in the last two years and with more regulations that “are nearing their completion date,” Miller explained.
“Now that this crisis is upon us, it’s the time to take that effort to the next level,” he said.