On January 25th, President Trump signed two separate Executive Orders related to the issue of U.S. immigration. A third Executive Order is expected to be signed later this week.
The first Executive Order, entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” focuses on the identification and removal of certain foreign nationals, an increase in enforcement related immigration officers, and the financial punishment of “sanctuary cities” that serve to shelter individuals from removal.
This Order states, among other things, that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is required to prioritize removable individuals. Under the prior Administration, the priority was on “criminal aliens”, which typically meant individuals who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses. This Executive Order expands that priority to individuals who not only have been convicted of any criminal offense, but those who have been charged with a criminal offense and/or who have committed acts that could lead to a criminal charge. The Order also allows for immigration officers to prioritize for removal any foreign nationals whom, in the judgment of the officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
Additionally, the Order serves to withhold federal funds to “sanctuary cities” in an effort to provide a financial disincentive for communities that shield individuals from removal. The Order provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security has sole discretion to determine which jurisdictions should be designated “sanctuary cities”.
The second Executive Order, entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” focuses on the Southern Border. The primary provision is the construction of a physical wall along the Southern Border as a way to prevent illegal immigration and criminal activity.
The Order also states, among other things, that the Secretary of Homeland Security is to “take all appropriate action” to construct facilities intended to detain individuals who attempt to violate U.S. immigration law along the Southern Border. This provision is coupled with another portion of the Order that requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue new rules and regulations regarding lawful detention policies, particularly in an effort to cease the practice of “catch and release”, which permits immigration officers to release individuals apprehended on the Southern Border into the United States while their removal proceedings remain pending.
Additionally, the Order focuses on “humanitarian parole” policies in an effort to prevent abuses. In terms of allowing otherwise inadmissible individuals to enter the United States pursuant to a “humanitarian parole”, the Order states that each application must be considered on a case-by-case basis and should only be used in instances where “urgent humanitarian” reasons exist and/or the entry of the individual will yield a “significant public benefit”.
President Trump is expected to issue a third immigration-related Executive Order on January 26th. It is anticipated that the third Order will focus on visa issuance and security measures in order to prevent future terror attacks.
While these acts were not unexpected, the long-term results of these Orders remains to be seen. It is true that the Secretary of Homeland Security is charged with the duty of introducing new policies and, in certain instances, new regulations designed to carry out the intent of the Orders. However, there is no telling when that may happen or how long it might take for these new policies and regulations to take effect. The Immigration Team at Barclay Damon will continue to closely monitor these issues and report on any new developments as they unfold.