In the midst of news about a federal hiring freeze ordered by the Trump administration, it may surprise some federal employees to hear that two other executive orders were issued by President Trump this week that call for hiring 15,000 new federal workers.
One of the executive orders, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, was issued on January 25. Its stated purpose is to “ensure the public safety of the American people in communities across the United States as well as to ensure that our Nation’s immigration laws are faithfully executed.”
The relevant part for federal workers, however, reads as follows (emphasis added):
Sec. 7. Additional Enforcement and Removal Officers. The Secretary, through the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, take all appropriate action to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers, who shall complete relevant training and be authorized to perform the law enforcement functions described in section 287 of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1357).
A separate executive order issued the same day, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, included language calling for hiring another 5,000 Border Patrol agents (emphasis added):
Sec. 8. Additional Border Patrol Agents. Subject to available appropriations, the Secretary, through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shall take all appropriate action to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and all appropriate action to ensure that such agents enter on duty and are assigned to duty stations as soon as is practicable.
The same executive order then later directs OPM to facilitate the hiring:
Sec. 16. Hiring. The Office of Personnel Management shall take appropriate action as may be necessary to facilitate hiring personnel to implement this order.
These hiring directives are an effort by Trump to make good on a campaign promise he made. Back in 2015, he outlined a plan that would triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers that are currently on the federal payroll. This new executive order appears to be the first effort to make good on this plan.
Politico reported that hiring 10,000 new agents could cost around $3.9 billion per year, and that the Department of Homeland Security had requested $3.1 billion in its FY 2017 budget for 8,000 agents. The article also said it’s not clear where all of the required money for his immigration plan would come from, but would almost certainly require approval and funding from Congress for at least a portion of it.
As part of his immigration plan, Trump has also been emphatic about building a wall on the southern border and giving most of the bill for the cost of construction to Mexico. White House press secretary Sean Spicer reiterated Wednesday that a wall be built and Mexico will pay for it, “one way or another.”
Trump said in an interview this week with ABC News, “Ultimately it will come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon and we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico.”
Congressional leaders said today that they would consider up to $15 billion for construction of a wall. American taxpayers are expected to cover the up front costs but Trump ultimately promised the bulk of the cost would be paid for by Mexico.
One plan for doing this was finally confirmed today. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration is planning a 20% tax on Mexican imports to fund construction of a border wall.