(Brandon Judd) – President Trump is one step closer to fixing our broken immigration system. By eliminating a major work permit loophole, he’s ensuring that the jobs being created by Nevada’s booming economy will go to American workers.
There were an estimated 129,000 illegal aliens residing in Nevada in 2016, a figure that has certainly increased since then amidst a surge of illegal immigrants seeking to exploit America’s outdated asylum laws.
For many years, illegal immigrants have been able to take advantage of a well-meaning but misguided provision in America’s immigration laws that allows them to secure U.S. work permits on “humanitarian” grounds. Individuals seeking asylum are eligible for “parole,” which allows them to reside in the United States while they await immigration court hearings, and until recently such migrants were given work permits almost automatically.
Almost 80,000 such work permits were granted during President Obama’s last full fiscal year in office alone — a figure the Trump administration had already slasheddramatically by limiting the permits to illegal immigrants who brought children with them.
In an effort to close this loophole for good, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), recently announced some major changes to the current work permit guidelines, giving immigration authorities the power to “ensure that requests for employment authorization based on parole are properly adjudicated” and approved on a case-by-case basis.
According to the USCIS policy memo, the department “has determined that it is necessary to issue this guidance at this time because there is a national emergency at the U.S. southern border.” Indeed, not only is the sheer number of illegal immigrants overwhelming our ability to apprehend and process them, but there has also been a huge spike in the number of “family units” as illegal immigrants seek to exploit other loopholes in our immigration system that give preferential treatment to those who subject children to the perilous journey across the border — loopholes that the Trump administration is likewise seeking to close.
Closing the work permit loophole would be worthwhile solely for the sake of removing an incentive for illegal immigrants to endanger children — whether those children are their own progeny or rentals procured from human smugglers — but it has the added benefit of protecting American workers from having their wages undercut and their jobs stolen.
The U.S. immigration system has a substantial impact on our state’s economy — and in the case of illegal immigration, the impact is decidedly negative. Nevada is less than 200 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border, making it a convenient destination for illegal immigrants, and our booming economy only makes Nevada more attractive to illegal aliens.
Since President Trump’s inauguration, more than 105,000 new jobs have been created in Nevada, and the state unemployment rate has dropped by 1.2 percentage points. While every state is doing well, Nevada’s small business owners have been particularly quick to capitalize on the opportunities available in the Trump economy, building a more multifaceted and therefore resilient economy than we’ve ever had before.
This explosion of entrepreneurialism would mean little to ordinary Nevadans, however, if the new jobs that those risk-takers created were to be taken by illegal aliens willing to accept lower wages and harsher working conditions.
Therein lies one of the cleverest aspects of President Trump’s decision to close the work-permit loophole: it not only reduces the number of illegal aliens in the workforce, but it also reduces the incentive for future illegal immigrants, whose prospects will now be limited to illegal, off-the-books jobs that offer meager pay amidst the constant threat of deportation.
But the President’s ongoing effort to fix our immigration system goes beyond tackling work-permit loopholes. For instance, he also recently reformed our border detention policies with the goal of ending child exploitation.
By repealing the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement — a guideline that prevented Border Patrol agents from holding migrant children in detention centers for more than 20 days — the Trump administration is ensuring that families are neither separated at the border nor prematurely released before their hearing date.
Meanwhile, construction is proceeding on the border wall that our Border Patrol agents desperately need to help them manage the overwhelming number of people who cross our border illegally every day. In many cases, the situation is so dire that the brave men and women who protect our border have to function more like paramedics than police. They save the lives of those migrants proudly, but they would be even more proud to know that their efforts were keeping people from putting their lives at risk in the first place.
That’s what President Trump is trying to achieve, and in the process he’s building an immigration system that protects the economic interests of states such as Nevada and ensures that American jobs go to American workers.
Brandon Judd is the president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the exclusive labor representative of approximately 16,000 Border Patrol agents.