Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration
Yesterday, January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two Executive Orders on immigration, demonstrating that he will take a hard-line, no compromise, and enforcement only approach to handling our nation’s already broken immigration system. Through these Orders, the Trump Administration communicated the following priorities:
Border Wall: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must immediately begin planning, designing, and constructing a physical wall along the nearly 2000-mile southern border. The U.S. (not Mexico) will pay for this wall at an estimated price tag of $6.5 million per mile. This is an unconscionable expenditure at a time when statistics show that the southern border is more secure than ever and illegal border crossings are at a 40-year low!
Increased Detention of Asylum Seekers and immigrants at the southern border: DHS is authorized to hire an additional 5000 Border Patrol Agents and build new detention facilities. DHS will no longer release asylum seekers on bond or electronic monitoring; instead, asylum-seekers will remain in jail while their cases are pending, and will have to gather evidence, prepare legal arguments, and present their cases while in detention. Not only will this be expensive ($125 per adult per day, or in the case of family detention, $343 per person per day), but it is inhumane. An estimated 88% of Central American women, children, and families crossing the Southern border have valid asylum claims. Subjecting them to prolonged detention further traumatizes them and violates this country’s proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing persecution.
Revised Removal Priorities: DHS is authorized to hire up to 10,000 additional immigration officers who will prioritize for removal individuals convicted of any criminal offense whatsoever, no matter how minor or insignificant. They will also prioritize for removal individuals who have open charges pending against them, even if they have not been found guilty by a judge or jury, and individuals who have never been charged or convicted of a crime, but whom an immigration officer believes may have committed a criminal act or may otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security. This vague and overbroad policy opens the door for rampant constitutional and civil rights violations. It also has the potential to expose both federal and deputized state and local agencies to frequent and protracted litigation.
Relatedly, the President has also Deputized State and Local Law Enforcement Officials to act as immigrant agents in apprehending, investigating, and detaining immigrants. Local jurisdictions currently have no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, as immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government alone. Forcing local police to act as immigration agents strains their already limited resources and reduces their ability to respond to and investigate crime. Importantly, this policy also deters immigrants who are victims of crime from coming forward and reporting criminal activity. By alienating our immigrant neighbors and over-taxing local police, this policy will make our communities even less safe.
Sanctuary Cities: President Trump pledges to end “sanctuary cities” (jurisdictions which protect the identity of non-criminal immigrant members of the community by refusing to share information about those individuals with federal immigration authorities). He has promised to end “sanctuary cities” by denying them Federal grants and funding. This move, too, jeopardizes the safety of all Americans. It undermines community policing efforts that encourage everyone to work with the police to prevent and solve crime. When immigrants distrust and fear local law enforcement, victims and key witnesses refuse to come forward out of fear of deportation.
Without a doubt, the impact of these directives will be substantial. Grossman Law is concerned that the President’s priorities skirt the long-established due process rights of all individuals, including immigrants, within our borders. Additionally, the attack on “sanctuary cities” will have the negative impact of further dividing our nation and the potential of increasing crime in our largest cities. Our nation’s history, prosperity and growth has been closely aligned with the prosperity and growth of immigrants. The executive orders, in large part, will work to destroy this proud history, and will have the consequence of instilling fear, rather than hope, into the hearts of deserving immigrants. This is “un-American” and misguided policy. Grossman Law will closely monitor the implementation of these Orders and will provide ongoing advice and counsel to our clients, and will continue organizing to ensure the protection of rights for all.
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