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Trump’s Executive Order on Enforcement Priorities – What You Need to Know

Trump’s latest Executive Order on Immigration halted entry into the United States of all  individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  The chaotic implementation of the order caused the detention of Legal Permanent Residents of the United States, non-immigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees and derivative asylees.   The public outcry and protests over the “Muslim Ban” prompted several federal law suits, and by Saturday, a federal Judge in New York blocked part of the order, saying that travelers being held at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries.  Opposition and criticism of the order has pushed this issue into the headline stories of broadcast and print news for a week and distracted our attention from two other flawed EO’s issued on January 25, 3 days prior to the travel ban.  The first is “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States“, which drastically changes current immigration policies on border security, immigration enforcement priorities and admission of refugees.

Under the Obama policy, since 2014, the Department of Homeland Security prioritized placement in removal proceedings those with criminal felony convictions or aggravated felony convictions.  Priority 2 consisted of aliens convicted of 3 or more misdemeanor offenses or significant misdemeanors, and Priority 3 are those who have been issued final orders of removal after January 1, 2014.  Trump’s Executive order drastically changes those enforcement priorities.   The Trump order, includes anyone convicted of a criminal offense, anyone charged with a criminal offense – even if it has not been resolved, anyone engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter of application, anyone having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits and anyone subject to final orders of removal but have not left the United States.

These directives are counter productive and destructive.  Trump’s order will dramatically escalate the use of immigration detention and expand the use of expedited removal without a hearing.   The Trump Enforcement Priorities draw no distinctions between potentially dangerous criminals and felons and those committing minor infractions.  The EO also prioritizes those charged with any crime – even before there is a conviction or resolution to the case.  Undocumented individuals need to be mindful of these enforcement priorities.  If you have criminal convictions or criminal charges, you need to see an experienced immigration attorney.  In most cases you may be entitled to a hearing before and immigration judge.