Somebody is really, really wrong. The Democratic presidential candidates have doubled down on the party’s opposition to the Trump immigration policies while supporting sanctuary cities, noncooperation with ICE on detainers and other issues. In the meantime, the Trump Administration is prevailing in litigation over his travel ban orders and it is now expanding the nations subject to the executive order. Both parties seem to believe that they have the voters on their side, including a new showdown in New York where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the “Green Light Law” allowing undocumented persons to get driver’s licenses. That has set off a major confrontation with Homeland Security which is vowing to suspend enrollment in the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP).
There was considerable coverage of the travel ban litigation when lower courts were ruling against the Administration. The litigation was no doubt prolonged by an original order that was poorly written and poorly defended. That order went through a series of changes but, as the challengers noted in court, the underlying claim of executive authority remained the same. Some of us believed that the Administration would prevail ultimately and criticized elements of the lower court decisions, including their reliance on campaign statements and tweets by President Trump. Ultimately, the Supreme Court lifted injunctions and signaled that the Administration would prevail on those fundamental claims.
The Trump administration’s latest travel ban, announced on January 31, targets six countries — Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria — will not be allowed immigrant visas for permanent visas. Two countries — Sudan and Tanzania — will be barred from “diversity visas” that is open to countries will historically low levels of immigration. Since all six have large Muslim populations, the same criticism over religious discrimination will be raised. It is guaranteed to trigger the same controversy — perhaps by design — right before the 2020 election. That will include at least one Supreme Court decision in the area and a number of appellate court decisions. On the travel orders, Trump still holds the advantage on precedent.
The Democrats are equally committed to their course on immigration. Cuomo signed the Green Light Law and joined 14 other states and the Washington D.C. in allowing undocumented persons to obtain driver’s licenses. However, Homeland Security opposes the laws. Thus, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that some 800,000 people will be suspended from the TTP over the next five years. There will be almost 90,000 New Yorkers impacted immediately and barred from programs like Global Entry. Changes will often not occur until the date of renewal for such programs. Cuomo is pledging a lawsuit over the changes.
As with sanctuary cities and ICE detainer conflicts, the travel ban sets up 2020 as an election on immigration policies like no other in modern political history. The only thing that is clear, again, is someone is really, really wrong.