Trump declares war at border, seeks ‘battlefield commander’

by WorldTribune Staff, April 10, 2019

President Donald Trump wants a “battlefield commander” who will take the fight to the border and won’t be slowed down by congressional bickering, a senior Trump administration aide said, according to a veteran Washington reporter.

Trump’s moves at the Department of Homeland Security this week “amount to an all-out declaration of war on illegal immigration, one that will rewrite rules of engagement and require his top aides run the battle from the border,” columnist Paul Bedard wrote on April 10, citing White House officials.

President Donald Trump tweeted on April 9: ‘The Border is being fixed.’

“We have to have somebody in the battlefield on a day-to-day basis, in like a forward theater, that’s actually making decisions in real time to meet deadlines and meet targets,” said the senior official. It is “very difficult to direct that … from a distance.”

Amid media reports of a “purge” by Trump at Homeland Security, the administration “has already shifted to reducing the numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the border and entering on asylum claims,” according to the column for Washington Examiner.

Trump tweeted on April 9: “Everybody is now acknowledging that, right from the time I announced my run for President, I was 100% correct on the Border. Remember the heat I took? Democrats should now get rid of the loopholes. The Border is being fixed. Mexico will not let people through!”

The senior official told Bedard that “There is a cultural bias … of granting benefits” to illegal immigrants, adding, that Trump’s goal is “changing that culture to one of protecting U.S. workers and citizens rather than seeing applicant as the ‘client.’ ”

Champions of immigration reform have cheered some of the president’s moves.

“Yes, the president is declaring war on the border crisis, and that’s what is needed at this point. He cannot sit back and watch as thousands of people cross illegally into our country week after week, leaving local communities to be forced to accommodate them, and taxpayers to foot the bill, while the cartels and the smugglers get richer and stronger,” said Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.

Bedard noted that administration officials believe that acting DHS chief Kevin McAleean “understands the president’s demands and has been given the Oval Office’s full blessing to form his own immigration team.”

The initial push will be to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the border and drastically reduce the number of asylum seekers let into the nation. The officials said that most should be turned away because when the full asylum process is played out, only about 10 percent are ever granted the status. In the meantime, many are given temporary entry into the nation, but most never report back to government officials.

In fact, said the senior official, when asylum seekers successfully make it in they use social media to brag about it, creating a “giant magnet factor” for more to seek entry into the U.S.

Vaughan said she remains skeptical of those the administration has picked to run the new effort and those remaining who are under fire.

Trump, she said, “has shaken up the command personnel, but I worry that too many of the same people at DHS are in place, some appointed by Nielsen, who did nothing but half measures and finger pointing at others, for instance, setting up (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee) Francis Cissna as a scapegoat, while they sat on their hands or actively obstructed needed policies. There is more housecleaning for the White House to take care of. In addition, they need to articulate the policies and lean on both the political appointees and the career bureaucrats to get them done.”

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