Before creating new immigration laws, President Donald Trump told the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that they must first enforce the ones that already exist.
“One of the most important missions of DHS is its law enforcement mission,” Trump instructed the government agency on Jan. 25, according to the Washington Examiner. “This is a law enforcement agency. But for too long, your officers and agents haven’t been allowed to properly do their jobs.”
Republicans have complained for years that President Obama’s administration instructed DHS to selectively enforce immigration laws, which Trump said may have cost “thousands of lives” and a multitude of American jobs.
“That’s all about to change, and I’m very happy about it and you’re very happy about it,” Trump continued in his speech to DHS. “From here on out, I’m asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States of America. They will be enforced and enforced strongly.”
Trump said that his administration and DHS “will work within the existing system and framework” to bulk up border and immigration enforcement, while he sets the framework to separate the U.S. and Mexico with the wall that he mentioned so frequently during his campaign.
“A nation without borders is not a nation,” Trump said in his address, according to The Hill. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders.”
Earlier in the day, the president signed an executive order to force so-called “sanctuary cities” that avoid enforcing immigration laws to comply with them and another to withhold federal grants from those cities. The orders also impose visa restrictions upon countries that decline to accept immigrants who have broken U.S. law and are eligible for deportation.
“Federal agents are going to unapologetically enforce the law, no ifs, ands or buts,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer, according to The Hill.
Trump also signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin building the border wall, for which he said Mexico would reimburse the U.S. later down the line.