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Pres. Trump makes first moves on immigration


President Trump's first Executive Orders on immigration set an extraordinarily hardline tone in week 1 of his presidency. In essence, President Trump has brought his campaign to the White House. Just days into the new administration, it is clear that Trump plans on rewriting immigration law, building a wall, adopting severely restrictionist policies and increasing enforcement. We are expecting several more orders this week involving legal immigration.

While only 1 order was released, 2 were announced. The orders announced yesterday focus on building a border wall, expanding enforcement, punishing sanctuary cities, and suspending refugee programs and stopping the issuance of visas to nationals of certain (i.e. muslim-majority) countries.

The order published yesterday:

Builds the Wall

It directs DHS to start building a wall, and to use existing money to pay for it. The executive order he signed Wednesday directed the Department of Homeland Security to “identify and, to the extent permitted by law, allocate all Federal funds” that could be used to build the wall. He disregarded the pledge to make Mexico pay for it.

Ends Catch and Release

Prior to this order, CBP had several options once they caught an immigrant on the border without documents. They could deport him immediately — if he meets certain criteria, like having been deported before. They could release him if they trust he’ll show up to his asylum interview or court date . They could use an ankle bracelet or other monitoring system. Or they could hold him in detention. President Trump just eliminated all but the first and last options; only deportation or detention remain.

Expands definition of removable criminal alien

The vague wording of this section is very troubling. It appears to make even legal aliens removable upon being charged, but not convicted of a crime. Very frightening. A green card holder could be deported upon misdemeanor arrest, for example. We expect this to be challenged in Federal Court.

Focus on removing criminals, increasing deportations

Increases immigration agents at the border (5,000) and the interior (10,000). More detention centers. Secure Communities program is reinstated, where local police more actively assist in immigration enforcement.

Threatens sanctuary cities with defunding

But falls just short of actual defunding.

The second order which was widely reported on yesterday but not yet published, relates to Refugee Admission and super-vetting of visa applications from nationals of certain (ie Muslim) countries.

Suspend Refugee Admissions

Trump is expected to sign an order suspending refugee admissions to the US for a certain period of time (possibly for four months). The executive order might make an exception for “religious minorities” who are persecuted in their home countries — presumably intended for Christians in the Middle East.

Suspending visas from certain (ie Muslim) countries

President Trump is also expected to sign an executive order stopping people from several countries from entering the US on visas. The list of countries reportedly includes Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and, Yemen — all majority-Muslim countries. The visa suspension might last 30 days-we will see. While it’s likely that a ban that targeted only majority-Muslim countries will face a court challenge, current US case law gives the president broad authority to restrict immigration from particular countries.

We here at ILG are bracing for the 2 remaining, expected Executive Orders on immigration this week. Some leaked draft memos indicate one will focus on ending DACA, and the other is made up of vague promises to aggressively reform employment immigration to favor American citizens more forcefully.

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