President Donald Trump has now taken action on immigration with the release of two executive orders: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

That second order is a far-reaching directive that includes provisions for removing criminal aliens, denying federal funds to sanctuary cities, civil fines and penalties, cooperation with local enforcement officials, victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and the addition of 10,000 immigration officers, among other things.

It is overwhelming in its scope, but one of its more important sections, Section 5, “Enforcement Priorities,” emphasizes the removal of criminal aliens and deserves extra scrutiny, not only for its importance, but the contrast it shows between President Trump’s proposed actions and the paucity of action by the Obama administration.

This issue became a national story in 2015 with the killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco by Francisco Sanchez, a criminal alien who had previously been deported five times (“San Francisco Murder Case Exposes Lapses in Immigration Enforcement,” New York Times, July 5, 2015).

Earlier, the Center for Immigration Studies reported that 36,007 criminal aliens were released from jail in 2013. They had nearly 88,000 convictions, including 193 homicide convictions; 426 sexual assault convictions; 303 kidnapping convictions; 1,075 aggravated assault convictions; 1,160 stolen vehicle convictions; 9,187 dangerous drug convictions; 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions; 303 flight escape convictions (“ICE Document Details 36,000 Criminal Alien Releases in 2013,” Center for Immigration Studies, May, 2014).

As of September, 2014, 5,700 (16 percent) had been arrested again for subsequent offenses (“Examining the Adequacy and Enforcement of Our Nation’s Immigration Laws,” U.S. House Judiciary Committee Statement of Jessica M. Vaughan Center for Immigration Studies February 3, 2015).

Some, but not most, were released as a result of a court decision, Zadvydas v. Davis, where the court ruled that criminal aliens could not be held indefinitely. If their home countries would not take them back, they had to be released. And that is what happened in 2013 (Zadvydas v. Davis, U.S. Supreme Court, June 28, 2001).

The following year, 2014, an additional 30,558 criminal aliens were released (“President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement 2009-2015,” Federation for American Immigration Reform, Feb. 2016).

In the meantime, and in contrast to a popular misconception, deportation of aliens was sharply reduced during the Obama administration. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed 65,332 aliens from the interior in 2016, a decline of 6 percent from 2015, and down 73 percent from 2009, the year President Obama took office (“ICE Deportations Hit 10-Year Low,” Center for Immigration Studies, Jan, 12, 2017).

A provision of President Trump’s Executive order — Sec. 2d — would “Ensure that aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed.” One of the ways to achieve that is to put a hold on the granting of visas to those countries that are refusing to accept back their criminal aliens. This would give the administration a lot of leverage when we consider the number of visas we issue annually; e.g., we granted a total of 181,300,000 nonimmigrant (temporary) visas in 2015, of which 4,933,958 were (B1) business visas, and 41,671,997 were (B2) tourist visas (“2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics,” Office of Immigration Statistics, Department of Homeland Security, Dec. 2016).

The Obama administration could have withheld visas from those countries that refused to take back their criminal aliens, but did not do so, except in one case with the country of Gambia, where in October, 2016, they withheld visas from some citizens of that country. I can’t find any instance(s) where the Bush administration withheld visas from any country.

So, there is a lot of leverage that the Trump administration can use. To repeat, these are criminals who have served their time, and it is especially egregious that we have to pay to house and feed them when we have the means to “encourage” recalcitrant countries to take back their criminals.

We should all want the administration to speedily implement the provisions against criminal aliens. Who amongst us can be against that?

Robert Casimiro of Bridgton is executive director of Mainers for Responsible Immigration, former executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform, and has been to the southern border eight times.

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