President Trump wants to pursue a “tougher direction” on immigration, and he overseeing a leadership purge at the Department of Homeland Security to make it happen. What does a “tougher direction” mean? Does the president have new options with the departure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen? For some advocates, it’s about a cultural change, reports USA Today. “Within DHS, there have been a lot of policy suggestions, small and large, that have been worked up but have been blocked by the people who are the heads of the agencies,” said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, which advocates for lower levels of legal and illegal immigration.
Immigration advocacy groups were bracing for the possibility that the administration will return to the “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that all immigrants entering the country illegally would be prosecuted. A 1997 federal court case required the U.S. to release child immigrants after 20 days. To honor both commitments, the Trump administration separated children and adults. Trump repeatedly threatened to close the border last month before he retreated, arguing that Mexico had taken a more aggressive stance on apprehending Central American migrants in response to his words. Closing all ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a logistical and economic nightmare, experts say. Some $1.5 billion in trade takes place across the border every day. Past presidents including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan took steps to slow traffic through checkpoints to send a political message to Mexico. Trump has threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on cars made in Mexico and shipped to the U.S. if the Mexican government stopped apprehending immigrants who cross the border illegally.