A Center for Immigration Studies analyst testified before the House immigration subcommittee on the state of immigration law enforcement and actions needed to restore the integrity of our immigration laws. Lack of enforcement has imposed enormous costs on American communities, including compromised national security, public safety threats, lost job opportunities, stagnant wages, and higher tax bills due to an increased demand for social services.
Jessica Vaughan, the Center's director of policy studies, emphasized that immigration enforcement had reached a state of collapse under the Obama administration:
- Interior deportations dropped by 70 percent since 2011;
- the administration's catch-and-release program resulted in about 40 percent of those caught by the Border Patrol trying to cross into the country being allowed to enter;
- deportations of criminal aliens declined by 60 percent since 2011;
- about 950,000 illegal aliens completed their due process and have final orders of removal, but remain in the country;
- more than 86,000 convicted criminal aliens were released over a three-year period, many of whom have gone on to commit further crimes;
- a lack of strong vetting for visas resulted in more than 500,000 foreign visitors overstaying in just one year alone (2015).
View Vaughan's full written statement: http://cis.org/Testimony/vaughan-Restoring-Enforcement-of-Our-Nations-Immigration-Laws
The last half of Vaughan's testimony addressed many of the steps the Trump administration has taken to restore enforcement:
- Ended the catch-and-release policies at the border;
- Discarded the strict prioritization scheme that exempted most illegal aliens from deportation;
- Taking steps to rebuild partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, including expanding the successful 287(g) program;
- Planning to again use accelerated forms of due process, so as not to drag out the deportation process
- Reviving task forces focused on smuggling, gangs, and other transnational crime.
She concluded by noting that some things can be done only by Congress, which has the lead role in determining immigration policy. Vaughan encouraged Congress to enact a phased-in universal E-Verify requirement to help turn off the job magnet that motivates many to come here illegally. She also recommended passage of the Davis-Oliver Act to strengthen enforcement by shoring up some weak spots in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
She urged Congress to address the problem of sanctuaries in several ways, including updating the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program so that the reimbursement is provided only for costs associated with honoring ICE detainers, not for jailing illegal aliens for local crimes.