When did enforcing the law become harsh?
The New York Times is back to its hysterical self with an editorial that qualifies for an insanity certification: "Mr. Trump's 'Deportation Force' Prepares an Assault on American Values."
Do they mean the American value known as "the rule of law"? And they still wonder why they had to be bailed out by a Mexican billionaire?
On Wednesday morning, I was a guest on a Spanish radio show. The host and I discussed the new ICE rules and future plans for people here without papers. I made the following point as clearly as I could: any person in the U.S. without papers, or undocumented, as it is fashionable to say, is subject to deportation at any time. In other words, there is no country in the world that accepts people who are violating its immigration laws...including Mexico.
At the same time, I made it clear that there are three groups of "undocumented" at the moment, and this new approach applies to one of them, or people engaged in additional criminal activities.
This is from the New York Post, and something that I shared with the audience:
Team Trump's newest immigration orders definitely toughen enforcement, but they're a far cry from mass roundups.
If the administration sticks to this approach — prioritizing the serious criminals for apprehension and deportation, while also making it harder to succeed at immigrating illegally — it'll have broad public support.
Over-the-top approaches (deporting law-abiding moms) will mean big trouble.
In that regard, it's worth noting that President Trump still hasn't touched former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives safe harbor and work permits to those brought here illegally as young children, a k a "the dreamers."
The Department of Homeland Security also sought to provide instant clarity this time 'round, with background briefings even as DHS chief John Kelly issued his latest orders.
In a conference call with reporters, one official noted, "We do not have the personnel, time or resources to go into communities and round up people and do all kinds of mass throwing folks on buses. That's entirely a figment of folks' imagination."
Yet Trump is moving to actually enforce US law, reversing the across-the-board Obama-era slowdown of enforcement actions. Violent criminals remain the top priority, but are no longer the only priority.
Now plea-bargaining a felony down to a misdemeanor won't leave you automatically exempt from immigration enforcement, nor will DHS officials wink at an illegal immigrants' fraudulent filing for welfare benefits.
Overall, DHS is pledging to "treat everyone humanely and with dignity" – while making clear its determination to "execute the laws of the United States" and that everything in Trump's order "is consistent with what Congress put into law."
In short, it's a promise of vigorous but rationally targeted enforcement, which is what most Americans have long wanted. As long as that's what it proves in practice, it should be a big political win for Trump.
And it should be a big win for the rule of law as well.
Over time, President Trump will have to address the other two groups: the Dreamers and the 10 million.
My hope is that he provides a path to legalization for the young people, especially those attending schools and staying out of trouble.
The remaining 10 million should be given a reasonable time to go home or comply with a set of conditions to stay here, such as paying a fine, proof of work, a clean criminal record, and maybe children born in the U.S.
Some will stay, and many will go back, but there's time to find a humane solution to a nasty problem created by our unwillingness to enforce immigration laws for a long time.
So far, President Trump is doing well.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.