struggle for the border
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly officially issued two memoranda Feb. 20 directing the department's workforce to implement two executive orders on the enforcement of immigration laws. The first memorandum (PDF) implements President Donald Trump's "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies" executive order. Kelly directed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents. This memo orders the immediate identification and allocation of sources of available funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. A standardized method will also be developed for public reporting of data regarding aliens apprehended near the border for violations of immigration law.
Amid rapidly deteriorating relations between the US and Mexico, reports are emerging that President Donald Trump openly threatened military intervention in a phone call with his counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto. According to a partial transcript of the conversation obtained by the Associated Press, Trump told Peña Nieto: "You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it." ("Bad hombres" is a term Trump also used in his final debate during the presidential campaign to refer to Mexican narco-gangs.)
The planned meeting in Washington between President Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, was called off after Trump signed his Jan. 25 executive order decreeing construction of a wall on the border—accompanied with more bluster about how Mexico will pay for it. Since the cancelation, Trump and Peña Nieto have engaged in an unseemly Twitter war, each taking responsibility for calling off the meeting. Things got worse when the White House raised the option of making Mexico pay for the wall with a 20% tariff on all goods coming in from our southern neighbor. The threat portends a trade war with the United States' third biggest trading partner.
President Donald Trump on Jan. 25 signed two executive orders on immigration, marking the beginning of Trump's efforts to fulfill his controversial immigration policy. The first order, titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," calls for, among other things, withholding federal funding to cities that provide safe haven to immigrants who have illegally entered the US. The second order, titled "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements," directs the construction of a wall along the Mexican border and an increase in the number of enforcement officials to remove undocumented immigrants. Although the order calls for "immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border," it does not address construction costs, which Trump has continually said would fall to the Mexican government. Trump intimated that Mexico would be willing to pay for the wall because it would lessen the number of people who travel through Mexico from more southern countries to reach the US.
President-elect Donald Trump is reported to have named the former chief of the Pentagon's Southern Command, Gen. John Kelly, as his choice for secretary of Homeland Security. As SouthCom chief, Kelly oversaw counter-narcotics operations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean from late 2012 until his retirement in January 2016. He was a notorious hardliner, which resulted in policy clashes with President Obama, the Washington Post tells us. As Homeland Security chief, he will oversee the 20,000-strong Border Patrol, with responsibility for drug interceptions along the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico.
The New York Times on Nov. 21 released Donald Trump's "short list" for cabinet appointments—compiled based on "information from the Trump transition team, lawmakers, lobbyists and Washington experts." The picks for Homeland Security are particularly notable. Joe Arpaio, his long reign of terror as Maricopa County sheriff finally ended by federal indictment and getting booted by the voters this year, is now being considered to oversee the Border Patrol and entire federal immigration apparatus. From his election in the early '90s, Arpaio ran a "Tent City" detainment camp for undocumented immigrants and others caught up in his sweeps. In an unsubtle moment in 2010, caught on film and reported by Pheonix New Times (despite his transparent later denials), he actually responded to a question at a public meeting about whether he would start using "concentration camps" by boasting: "I already have a concentration camp... It's called Tent City."
A federal judge on Oct. 25 ordered (PDF) Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be tried on a charge of criminal contempt. Judge Susan Bolton of the US District Court for the District of Arizona made the order after determining that Arpaio disobeyed a court order in a racial profiling case. This comes after Judge G Murray Snow requested that the US Attorney's Office file criminal contempt charges against Arpaio. The criminal contempt charges are a result of a 2007 lawsuit claiming that Arpaio discriminated against Latinos in his enforcement of his immigration patrols. Bolton found that Snow had prohibited Arpaio from enforcing his immigration patrols, in which persons were detained without state charges, but that Arpaio continued to detain such persons and deliver them to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement when there were no charges to bring. Bolton ordered Arpaio's trial for Dec. 6 in Phoenix. The charges against Arpaio could result in fines or prison time if he is convicted.
As officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a new wave of deportations of Central American migrants who entered the US illegally over the past two years, protests against the government action were carried out across the country. Dozensoccupied the intersection outside the Immigration Court on Varick Street in Lower Manhattan on Jan. 8, with seven arrested. An action was also held outside the West County Detention facility in Richmond, Calif., days earlier. At the close of the Jan. 2-3 weekend, 121 adults and children had been taken into custody in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, according to Jeh Johnson, head of the Homeland Security Department, who warned of thousands more to be deported within the next weeks because they have exhausted their legal appeals. Johnson added that the number of people trying to cross the border illegally has begun to climb again in recent months—despite just over than 330,000 migrants having been apprehended in 2015, the second-lowest number in more than four decades.