On February 28, delivering his first public address since leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida. While the 90-minute-long speech covered a diverse array of issues – including trade, communist China, free speech, election fraud, socialism, and gun rights – immigration was a key theme to which the 45th president repeatedly returned. And he did not mince any words as he tore into the 46th president’s immigration policies.
Telling the CPAC audience that “we’re in the middle of a historic struggle for America’s future, America’s culture, and America’s institutions, borders, and most cherished principles,” Trump called his successor’s approach “anti-borders,” “far left,” and “America last.”
The former president highlighted his administration’s border security accomplishments, including building 452 miles of border wall (in the face of powerful, non-stop obstruction), cracking down on asylum fraud, and ending the foolish “catch and release” policy. “It took the new administration only a few weeks,” he bemoaned, “to turn this unprecedented accomplishment into self-inflicted humanitarian and national security disaster by recklessly eliminating our border, security measures, controls, all of the things that we put into place,” including by stopping all border wall construction and scrapping Trump’s “stay in Mexico” anti-asylum-fraud policy while making meritless asylum claims easier.
Trump emphasized that mass illegal migration enriches “child smugglers, vicious criminal cartels, and some of the most evil people on the planet,” accusing the Biden administration of “put[ting]the vile coyotes back in business.” He also warned that Biden’s reinstating of “catch and release” – releasing apprehended illegal aliens into the U.S. interior – is a great incentive for more illegal migration (“once they think they can get in, they’re coming”).
The former president similarly took issue with Team Biden’s revoking his executive order “cracking down on deadly sanctuary cities” (he was referring to EO 13768) and called out the new president’s 100-day deportation freeze (which, luckily, was blocked by a federal judge but nevertheless illustrates how radical the new administration is on immigration). Biden-Harris further poured fuel on the fire by “ripp[ing]up the diplomatic agreements we negotiated with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to shut down illegal immigration.” Such agreements undoubtedly contributed to the Trump administration’s overall success in regaining operational control of the southwestern border. Trump also reminisced about the economic leverage he employed to coax the Northern Triangle nations into taking back deported dangerous criminals, such as violent MS-13 gang members.
Moreover, Trump remarked that “it’s insane [that]within his first few hours, Biden eliminated our national security travel bans on nations plagued by terrorism. His first priority was to open our borders to un-vetted travelers from Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and many other countries where strict vetting cannot occur. Countries that have tremendous problems. Countries with tremendous terrorism problems.”
“In addition,” he continued, the new administration has “already increased refugee admissions by nearly 10 times (…).” In a reference to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in certain places, Trump also asserted that “your families still cannot go out to eat at local restaurants. But Joe Biden is bringing in thousands upon thousands of refugees from all over the world. People that nobody knows anything about, we don’t have crime records. We don’t have health records.”
Trump also strongly condemned Biden’s massive “globalist” immigration bill (known as the U.S. Citizenship Act) promising amnesty – and eventual citizenship – to upwards of 14.5 million illegal aliens in the U.S. “while massively expanding chain migration.” Calling it a “corporatist, big tech attack on hardworking citizens of every race, religion, color, and creed,” he called upon Republicans to “ensure that it never is allowed to become federal law.”
Mr. Trump also brought up the need to pick immigrants based on merit, rather than family connections, but mentioned this only in passing.
Many of Trump’s detractors will no doubt dismiss his speech as nothing more than self-congratulatory bragging (if not worse). But Trumpian boasting aside, even those who dislike the former president should at least acknowledge that he was right about immigration and border security, and that his policies were steps in the right direction. It is even more important to realize that the Biden administration’s current policies – which seem to be propelled by a knee-jerk reaction to undo as much of Trump’s legacy as quickly as possible – are recklessly endangering and harming the United States and its people.