Is DHS Secretary Nielsen Willing to Enforce Immigration Laws?

By Dan Cadman on December 7, 2017

Scott Greer has written an op-ed for the Daily Caller, "Trump Supporters Should Be Skeptical Of The New DHS Chief", which discusses the recent confirmation of Kirstjen Nielsen to the post of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary.

As the title clearly suggests, Greer has doubts about Nielsen's chops to carry forward the as-yet unfinished job of restoring integrity and respect for the nation's immigration laws. I share those doubts.

It's clear that former DHS Secretary, and now White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was instrumental in ensuring that Nielsen's candidacy for the position got prominent attention. Yet Kelly himself was a short-timer at DHS and his own bona fides were not firmly established before he was moved into his new position.

Then there is the fact that Nielsen was a George W. Bush White House appointee — something that clearly suggests a weak position on immigration enforcement issues, if one takes a clear and balanced view of DHS and immigration during that administration. The Bush family's view on illegal immigration and amnesty may have been most loudly and emotionally articulated by Jeb Bush (aliens illegally enter the United States as "an act of love") but I don't think he had ranged too far out of the family ranch when he said it.

Note also in Greer's column a reference to Nielsen's remarks at her confirmation hearing that the American people "owe" DACA recipients an amnesty. Really? Do we? This suggests a shallowness of analysis that itself should make Nielsen's incumbency suspect.

If smuggling youth across our borders is a dangerous and pernicious act — and there is no doubt that it is — then our country should be doing everything possible to interdict and halt that traffic, which results in all too many human tragedies. (See here, here, and here.)

But who are the folks primarily responsible for this cross-border movement of children and youth? The parents. And who will be the down-the-line happy recipients of green cards once these children are amnestied and eventually naturalize, thanks to the generous foolishness of our country's chain migration policies? The parents.

So exactly where is the disincentive for tens of thousands of other parents to cross with their children, or to summon them via criminal cartels once they successfully enter illegally themselves? It's nonexistent.

At one point, in an attempt to dissuade parents from doing this, they were told by former Secretary Kelly that they would face prosecution for smuggling. To my knowledge, no one has actually been prosecuted. This seems to have been just one more example of empty words — something that becomes common knowledge very quickly in alien communities, where they watch what happens after such words to see if there are real world consequences or not.

In the meantime, DHS has issued its year-end statistics for fiscal year 2017. Among them, the Border Patrol reports apprehending about 153,678 new unaccompanied alien child/family illegal border crossers out of a total of 310,531 apprehensions. That's nearly half of the total apprehensions, and news reports tell us that many of these individuals are being released immediately after processing for lack of facilities in which to hold them. In other words, they will be in the wind for years before their cases are called to the immigration courts given that backlogs there are over the half-million mark.

What does all of this mean? Well, it suggests that Secretary Nielsen has an opportunity to prove her capacities or, conversely, to show that she's still part of the same stale old equations that have impeded resolution of serious border security and crime issues in the past. And it won't take long to discern, given the numbers we're seeing, despite the smoke that DHS is blowing about the drop in cross-border apprehensions. They, of all people, should know that it isn't just about numbers, but also about who is crossing, whether it's vulnerable minors or hardened criminals or terrorists.

The ground realities also suggest that in about 10 or 15 years we will again be hearing allegedly responsible government officials and legislators avowing that we "owe" the next generation of "Dreamers" an amnesty. The circle will be unbroken: The smuggling and trafficking and victimization of children will continue; and the parents responsible for this cross-border evil will continue to be rewarded for using their children as the point of the spear by which they ultimately get resident status for themselves.

Yet many of our members of Congress (which can't otherwise seem to legislate its way out of a paper bag) continue to press for immediate amnesty for these "Dreamers" (a significant portion of whom later prove to be criminals or gang members).

And, of course, moving forward, our government organs at DHS and the State Department will no doubt continue to pontificate at various forums and conventions on the obligation of other nations to do more and better on the international smuggling and trafficking of children, despite our own failures.

Sometimes the illusion of progress is a lot easier than taking the hard steps necessary to shut down an evil trade in the most vulnerable of human beings.