HARDLINE IMMIGRATION POLICIES AND RELAXING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
by Sunil J. Wimalawansa
Rushing to implement executive orders and legislations without thoroughly thinking through, and/or not fully evaluating short-term and long-term consequences can introduce noteworthy mistakes and chaos. Similarly, unilaterally withdrawing the 2015, climate agreement signed in Paris by the United States, can have major, global negative repercussions.
Hardline immigration policies:
(February 7, 2017, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) One of the key promises Mr. Trump made during his campaign was to tighten immigration laws and issue and executive order to withdraw federal funds form sanctuary cities. The latter two items are tightly knitted together. The implementation of hardline immigration policies includes repealing some pre-existing laws and executive orders issued by President Obama during the past eight-years. President Trump has begun to sign a new set of executive orders overhauling the system as per his promises during the campaign; these orders eventually need to be made into law by Congress. In addition, president Trump also plans to make changes to the following:
- Capture and release laws of illegal entrants’ that encouraged and incentivized millions of illegal immigrants to walk into the United States illegally and surrender as (economic) asylum seekers;
- Expedite the deportation of undocumented people and non-citizens who commit crimes in the United States. However, this needs much cooperation and coordinated efforts, such as from Mayer’s from over 300 sanctuary cities in United States, home land security, immigrations departments, detention centers, judges/legal system, etc.;
- Generate a foolproof mechanism to assure the acceptance of these criminals by the host countries (i.e., country these criminals originally came form);
- A practical mechanism to repatriate those who are overstaying visas, irrespective of their country of origin;
- Abuses in the loophole in citizenship used by pregnant women coming to the United States to have babies to obtain citizenship for the off-springs. Their goal is for the child to re-enter US when he/she reaches adulthood.
- A modification to the current executive order signed by President Obama, that automatically grants a path to citizenship, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to children who came to the United States illegally;
- Cease or drastically reduce the number of refugees United States admits;
- Temporary ban on entry and restrict visitor’s visa to America from citizens from seven named counties that are identified by the State Department as high risk for terrorism;
- Extreme-vetting of persons who are planned to enter United States from countries known to harbor terrorism; and
- Building a secure, impenetrable physical wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and strengthening border security with electronic surveillance.
These executive orders will pave the way to begin these changes; however, abolition of laws need congressional approval. Trump administration believes that doing so would minimize security risk and thus, benefit the country in the long term. However, Democratic lawmakers and interest groups are relentlessly opposing and attempting to prevent repealing these measures.
Outcomes from tough immigration rules:
Toughening the rules for people from Central America arriving through the southern border will deter people from attempting illegal border crossings. Thus, with time, fewer people will try to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, and consequently, there will be less harm to those who attempt to cross the border illegally. When illegal immigrants realize, that they will be arrested and kept in detention camps and most likely deported to where they came from (i.e., not released in the United States as it was used to be), the flow of illegal crossings will decrease dramatically.
The current practice of arrest and release within the United States makes no sense. The Border Patrol together with Homeland Security will be empowered to hold those who are crossing U.S. borders illegally. Currently, on average, it takes two-years for a court hearing for those who are arrest and released. This catch and release order, in fact, further encourage illegal immigration.
Because of the changes made through executive orders, those who are arrested will be placed in detention centers (not released with a paid bus ticket to where ever they want to go and with pocket money), while their cases are processed with potential deportation to their originating countries. By tripling the immigration hearing facilities near the U.S. southern border, the current plan is to decrease this time frame from two years to under three-months. Thus, the decision can be made quickly by immigration judges whether a person to be deported or grant to stay in the country.
Consequent to the above measures, criminals and drug traffickers will hesitate to cross the border when they realize there is no catch and release mechanism, and sanctuary cities are not existing anymore in the United States to protect them. The Homeland Security will either put them in jails in the United States, or more likely that they will be deported back to where they came from, where they may even face jail sentences. The Department of Justice, under the new leadership of the Attorney General, will play a key role in coordinating these complex activities.
Removal of restrictions related to environmental protection laws:
President Trump’s appointment of a fervent critic of environmental restrictions as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is likely to lead to repeal of many of President Obama’s executive orders related to the Environmental Protection rules. This would allow the agency to widen governmental control over water and air and their locations.
Meanwhile, rescinding Interior Department rules would facilitate the government to restart the coal industry. Such expansions are likely to include removal of regulations related to coal mining close to streams, discharging effluents directly to streams, and lowering standards for greenhouse gas emission, particularly methane, which would allow broader expansion of fracking and drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands.
Removal of environmental restrictions:
President Trump has said that he plans to withdraw the United States from the 2015 global climate agreement signed in Paris. Doing so will have a ripple effect on other nations, may have long-term negative consequences, and will waste the years of efforts that went into creating this unique agreement. It took over two-years of hard work for the Obama administration to bring many countries together, especially China and India, agreeing to control carbon and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Considering the broader beneficial aspects of this agreement and its potential advantageous in years to come, withdrawal is not wise decision to make. However, whether many polluting countries (greenhouse gases and carbon emission) will adhere to the agreement is another issue.
Another controversial issue is the decision of the new administration on the Dakota Access oil pipeline. This unique pipeline extends from North Dakota all the way to Illinois. All sections except for the one that crosses the Missouri River reservoir have been completed. In a parallel matter, the Trump administration has to decide whether to grant approval for the State Department to grant a cross-border permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline (TransCanada Corporation), which the Obama administration deprived in 2015. Time will tell us how these two activities will progress.
Importance of thoroughly vetting all executive orders prior to their implementation:
Since assuming his presidency, Mr. Trump has been busy initiating many executive actions. Many wheels have been put into motion within the first few days, bogging down its own establishment and the legislative branch struggling to keep up. Such would also inevitably lead to inefficiencies in handling these and creating unforeseen errors.
Rushing with not fully evaluated executive orders or legislations can lead to introduction of serious mistakes. Therefore, it is vital that each executive order is thoroughly scrutinized and think through in depth to avoid negative consequences, unrest, uncertainties and chaos. Removal of LGBT right is one such.
To be Continued
Professor Sunil J. Wimalawansa MD, PhD, MBA, DSc, is a Physician-Scientist, Social Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Educator with strategic long-term vision.
The author can be reached via https://wimalawansa.org/