An organization that advocates for enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is crediting a stiff new removal provision for reports that the U.S. is deporting more illegal immigrants than are coming into the country.
Apprehensions of illegal aliens have fallen significantly in recent months, due to border restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department of Homeland Security implemented Title 42, a provision that allows Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers to quickly remove illegal aliens without the requirement of court hearings. The directive [PDF] comes from public health guidelines set by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ira Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) tells OneNewsNow that the economic downturn decreased the incentive for people to cross the border illegally in search of jobs.
"But it just shows that if you have policies that are being carried out in a systematic way and you make it clear to people that you're not going to benefit by breaking the law, guess what? Fewer people break the law," he emphasizes. "And that's the way we enforce all civil laws in this country."
When the directive first went into effect in March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed almost 18,000 illegal aliens from the country. The following month, fewer than 17,000 apprehensions were made at the southern border, which was the second lowest mark for monthly apprehensions in the last 20 years.
While the directive was blasted by the ACLU when it went into effect, FAIR argues it will almost certainly help reduce the further spread of coronavirus from foreigners entering the U.S.
No courthouse arrests?
While FAIR likes the impact of that removal provision on illegal immigration, the organization isn't happy with a decision by a federal judge on June 10 that bars Immigration and Customs Enforcement from making courthouse arrests in New York City.
Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in an opinion [PDF] that, "The Court declares ICE's policy of courthouse arrests, as now embodied in the Directive, to be illegal." ICE already refrains from arresting illegal aliens near schools, houses of worship, and hospitals. But Mehlman contends a reasonable argument can be made that courthouses are the most appropriate and least sensitive areas to arrest an illegal alien.
"You don't just walk in there without going through a security check," he notes, "so there's no danger that the people who are subject to arrest are going to be armed. We know that they won't be armed in that case, which makes it safer for everybody."
And Mehlman points out that the Empire State doesn't ban other law enforcement agencies from executing arrest warrants in courthouses. Mehlman suggests this reveals that the judge's decision may have been driven by a political agenda.
"The federal government has the right to enforce the law anyplace in the country whether the state or local government involved likes it or not," he adds.
Mehlman is hopeful the judge's decision will be overturned on an appeal. The DOJ has 60 days to decide whether to appeal.