Twenty-one days after Election Day last November, Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that supports reduced immigration, introduced a transition document to provide the newly elected president with guidance on immigration policy.
It was their moment. FAIR had condemned the Obama administration’s immigration policy, and pushed for heightened border security and the removal of undocumented immigrants. And Trump, whose campaign had begun with a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, appeared to be the champion they needed.
Within the first few weeks of his administration, Trump expanded the number of undocumented immigrants considered a priority for deportation, threatened jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents, and called for more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Customs and Border Protection agents. But he also fell short on other promises—including a central plank of his presidential campaign, a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the interim, the high expectations of immigration restriction groups like FAIR have turned to frustration and disappointment.
“We can only assume that President Trump has struck a secret deal with Mexico to get them to pay for the border fence he promised, because funding for the project sure isn’t in the budget proposal he sent to Congress,” Stein said in a statement following the release of Trump’s budget proposal in May. The proposal included $2.6 billion for border security, a fraction of which was marked for the construction of a wall. That figure paled in comparison to estimates by the Department of Homeland Security, which found in a report that a wall along the southern border would cost as much as $21.6 billion. It also went back on a campaign pledge that Trump would make Mexico pay for the barrier. But the sarcastic tone of Stein’s statement was notable.