President Donald Trump signed two Executive Orders related to immigration on January 25, including one addressing interior enforcement and so-called “sanctuary cities”, and another addressing construction of a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico.
The first Executive Order is called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The purpose of this Order is to ensure the public safety of U.S. communities around the country by focusing on undocumented aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States. The text of the Executive Order explicitly directs executive departments and agencies to cooperate in the apprehension of undocumented aliens who engage in criminal activities. The Order includes language that will bar federal funding from any jurisdiction that refuses to comply with it. This would mean that a jurisdiction would need to ensure that undocumented aliens who engage in criminal conduct are removed, and that there is support for victims, and families of victims, of the criminal acts committed by the undocumented alien.
It is stressed that the removal of undocumented aliens who commit crimes should be made a priority. It is of note that the classes of removable aliens include those who “have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved.” A sampling of the definition of class of removable aliens is as follows: 1) those who have been convicted of a criminal offense; 2) those who have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation before a governmental agency; 3) those who have abused a program to receive public benefits; 4) those who are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied and departed; and 5) those who pose a risk to public safety or national security under the discretionary judgment of an immigration officer.
The Executive Order prohibiting sanctuary cities also includes language to promulgate regulations to assess and collect fines from undocumented aliens who are unlawfully in the United States. It contains text allowing for the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration officers as well as state and local law enforcement officers to act as immigration officers. This includes apprehension, investigation, and detention powers, thereby expanding the reach of immigration enforcement by state and local law enforcement. In addition, the Order includes language that will require a quarterly report from the U.S. Secretary of State and Attorney General on aliens who are incarcerated, and their immigration statuses.
This Executive Order also encourages sanctions against countries that deny or unreasonably delay accepting a deportable national of that country. This could result in the discontinuation of granting immigrant and/or nonimmigrant visas to residents of that country. A blanket discontinuance of visa issuance could result in reciprocal treatment against U.S. visa applicants. To date, the U.S. government has identified 23 such countries, including China and India.
The aim of this Executive Order is to once again create “Secure Communities.”
The second Order is titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” The purpose of this Order is to ensure border security, focusing on the southern border with Mexico and the alleged increase of violent crime, drug and human trafficking, and terrorist conduct. The Executive Order addresses the perceived problem at the southern border with a mandate to construct a wall that will be monitored and patrolled to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism. The Order includes clauses identifying methods of funding the construction of the wall (including federal funds), the hiring of 5,000 additional border agents, and additional detention facilities to be built near the border with Mexico and staffed with asylum officers. The Order calls for the detention of all unauthorized border crossers and expands expedited removal. About the current asylum policy, the Executive Order includes language requiring a strict reading of how immigration judges determine credible fear.
We expect additional Executive Orders related to immigration in the coming days and weeks.