Washington, D.C.- Today, the Supreme Court will review appeals to the Trump administration’s “travel ban,” which would temporarily bar residents of six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. The ban, which represents a realization of Trump’s campaign promise to crack down on immigration, was blocked by two separate federal appeals courts earlier this year. Now, depending on how the Supreme Court rules, President Trump could be handed yet another defeat on arguably his core issue.
Of course, Donald Trump rode to the presidency on immigration, but it has been difficult to transform his campaign rhetoric into tangible action. In a new paper, “Hitting the wall: On immigration, campaign promises clash with policy realities,” John Hudak, Elaine Kamarck, and Christine Stenglein examine the various elements of the president’s immigration agenda, highlighting just how challenging it will be for the Trump administration to achieve its goals.
Focusing on the Department of Homeland Security’s path toward implementation, the authors analyze the policy, personnel, financial, and logistical realities facing the agency, showing how onerous—if not impossible—it will be for the president to enact his proposals. Some of the most formidable realities identified and discussed in this paper include:
- By initiating a massive public works project (construction of a border wall), demand for additional labor may unintentionally increase the number of unauthorized individuals entering the country.
- In order to build a border wall, the federal government would have to exercise eminent domain—a deeply unpopular practice among conservatives.
- The president has proposed adding 15,000 new agents to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Such an increase would require a tremendous pool of applicants to agencies that already have difficulty attracting applicants, let alone qualified applicants—most people who apply for jobs at CBP fail to meet the minimum qualifications.
- The cost of hiring 15,000 new agents would result in an estimated 14.7 percent increase in the CBP budget and an astonishing 60.8 percent increase in the ICE budget.
Furthermore, the president’s efforts to-date have been met with resistance at every turn:
“Thus far, courts have struck down President Trump’s attempts to ban immigrants from majority-Muslim countries … the omnibus spending bill approved by the House in May 2017 made no mention of, or provision for, a border wall … the president has filled few of the political posts throughout government that deal with immigration policy, without which he will struggle to implement much of his proposed program.”
Although Donald Trump has painted a dire portrait of a nation overrun by “illegal immigrants” and dangerous refugees, well-documented trends examined in this paper paint a different portrait—and suggest that it will be exceedingly arduous for President Trump to reach his goals.