WASHINGTON: Tensions are rising, fingers are pointing and the search for solutions is becoming increasingly fraught. Overwhelmed by an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border that is taxing the immigration system, President Donald Trump is grasping for something — anything — to stem the tide.
Trump, who campaigned on a promise to secure the border, has thrown virtually every option his aides have been able to think of at the problem, to little avail. He has sent out the military, signed an emergency declaration to fund a border wall and threatened to completely seal the southern border. On Thursday he added a new threat, warning of hefty tariffs on cars made in Mexico if the country doesn’t abide by his demands.
Now, with the encouragement of an influential aide and with his re-election campaign on the horizon, Trump is looking at personnel changes as he tries to shift blame elsewhere.
The first move was made Thursday, when the White House unexpectedly pulled back the nomination of Ron Vitiello to permanently lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he had been acting director. The abrupt reversal was encouraged by top Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller and seen by some as part of a larger effort to bring on aides who share Miller’s hard-line immigration views.
President Donald Trump says his administration is ensuring the country knows “this is an actual emergency” at the U.S.-Mexico border. (April 5)
“We may go a different way. We may have to go a very tough way,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox & Friends Weekend” that aired Saturday.
An empowered Miller is also eyeing the removal of Lee Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs the legal immigration system, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal staffing matters. The White House did not respond to questions Friday about whether Trump was on board with that plan.
Trump has become increasingly exasperated at his inability to do more to halt the swelling numbers of migrants entering the country. Aides, too, have complained they are stymied by regulatory guardrails, legal limitations and a Congress that has scoffed at the president’s requests for legislative changes.
“There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said Friday during a visit to the southern border in Calexico, California, where his frustration was evident. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. So, as I say, and this is our new statement: The system is full. Can’t take you anymore.”