For the first time since 9/11 the country is going to get serious about enforcing its borders. If Donald Trump’s victory proves anything it is that immigration enforcement has to happen. No other issue so defines him. It seems to be the glue that holds his disparate voters together. With Republicans in control of both Congress and the Presidency there would seem to be no possibility this campaign promise will be forgotten. Perhaps the wall will not run the entire length of the southern border, but it will have to run along a good part of it. And there will be much more money appropriated to the Border Patrol and immigration enforcement generally.
No presidential candidate has run on an unambiguous promise to build a wall or deport illegal immigrants in U.S. history. Both parties have supported an unspoken position of defacto open borders for many decades. The Democrats get millions of new mostly Hispanic voters. The GOP gets cheap labor and higher profits for its corporate base. It seems this shotgun marriage has ended. It also seems like Trump did not pay a political price for his anti-immigration stance in the election. He actually received a higher portion of the Hispanic vote than Romney did (29% versus 27%), both low enough to clearly indicate that the Republican open border position is politically self-defeating. You can only let in so many illegal immigrants before their children obtain birthright citizenship and outvote the donor class.
It seems about half the country realizes this and has demanded a halt to non-enforcement. After 9/11 the country briefly took border enforcement seriously. Illegal immigration dramatically slowed and visa over-stayers were removed. But it didn’t last because the Bush administration craved cheap labor as did his core supporters. Trump’s core supporters are anti-immigration and cheap labor. cheap labor has lowered their wages. So the stars are aligned for real change. Rather than “immigration reform,” Congress may pass a bill to toughen immigration enforcement, eliminate some employment visas and impose an exit system for visa over-stayers. Also, President Trump can eliminate President Obama’s executive order on immigration. These are all overdue reforms to the system.