A headline story in this week’s Sunday Chicago Tribune announced that up to 8 million people could be deported as a result of Trump’s Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” Although the Trump administration insists that their intent is to find and deport “bad people”, the Executive Order allows immigration agents and local and state police to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. The consequences could be dire, for immigrants and their families, and for the United States. While the enforcement priorities under Obama targeted 1.4 million people for deportation, under the new enforcement policies, nearly everyone who is in the country without proper documentation is at risk. The Tribune (citing a Pew Research Center study) said as many as 5.5 million people in the country crossed the border without proper documentation. The remaining 6 million estimated undocumented people came to the U.S. on some type of legal visa, and overstayed the time they were permitted in he United States.
The new Enforcement Policy includes anyone convicted of a crime, and also anyone charged with a crime, or anyone who committed a crime but was not arrested or charged. This would include anyone who entered without a visa because illegal entry is a crime under 8 U.S.C. Sect 1325. The order directs Department of Homeland Security to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers for its deportation force, more than doubling ICE staffing. Of course this expansion would require Congressional appropriations.
In additional to undocumented persons who were convicted of, arrested for, or committed but not arrested for crimes, the order targets those who have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a government agency, anyone having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits, any anyone who is subject to a final order of removal and failed to leave. Note there is no ranking of these deportation priorities, making them equal in importance.
According to the American Immigration Council Executive Summary, the order directs DHA to review regulations and policy to determine compliance with this order, and rescind or revise any policy or regulation that are inconsistent with the order. How all of this will play out is unknown. It will take some time before the enforcement priorities will be defined and fully implemented. Until they change, the INA statutes control and the Executive Order can be implemented only as it is consistent with current law. Stay tuned to this blog and our firm will publish policy updates as we receive them.