Big Changes for DHS

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Government

Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson announced that she was resigning from her position. This announcement comes in the midst of rising tensions over the issue of border security, which has been a point of contention throughout much of Trump’s presidency. Here, btw takes a look at Nielson’s resignation, the changing Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and what’s at stake for migrant families.

So What Happened?

On April 7, Trump announced that Nielson was leaving her post. He praised and thanked her for her service, despite the fact that the two often clashed. In the past, Trump has blamed Nielson for not doing enough to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country, and for not being able to convince Congress to fully fund his border wall. Nielson has also faced harsh criticism in the past from Democrats for standing up for Trump’s harsh immigration policies.

Tension at the Southern Border

Meanwhile, last month, the number of undocumented immigrants detained at the southern border climbed to over 103,000–the highest it has been in a decade. DHS agents expect the number to climb still higher as the weather warms up. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that the totals are still nowhere near as high as they were twenty years ago.

border wall in Arizona

Credit: Shutterstock/Chess Ocampo

In response to this, the Trump administration is looking at tightening up the border through even stricter immigration policies. In fact, Trump threatened last week to close the southern border altogether, and to place high tariffs on cars made in Mexico until the country stops the flow of immigrants into the U.S. The president has since dialed back on these threats, saying that he will give Mexico a year to reign in illegal immigration before these punitive actions are taken.

New Policies

At the same time, DHS is considering other policies to make crossing the border illegally less appealing to potential immigrants. Here are some of the possibilities that the department has presented:

  • Stepping up deportations of immigrants who are already here in the United States without legal documentation.
  • “Binary Choice” A rebranded version of the policy that was responsible for separating thousands of migrant children from their parents at the border. This lets detained parents decide whether to let their children be removed from them and placed into protective custody, or to keep their children with them in detention centers as they await trial.
  • Stricter screening processes for those trying to seek asylum in the United States, and/or requiring them to wait in Mexico for their asylum request to be processed, rather than waiting in the U.S.
  • Build tent camps along the U.S.-Mexico border for immigrants waiting on their cases to be processed.
  • Send more immigration judges and attorneys to the border to speed up the asylum-seeking process. Since most asylum requests are ultimately denied, this will quicken the rate at which immigrants are moved back out of the country.

Ultimately, it’s likely that any of these approaches will be challenged in court.

What Do You Think? Consider the approaches proposed in this article for stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. Choose one, and explain why you think this policy would succeed or fail. Always remember to be sensitive with your language in your answer.