When President Trump issued his first two Executive Orders last week, the majority of news outlets focused on the immense southern border wall that will supposedly be constructed. The barrier, along with the moratorium on visas from predominately Muslim countries, is of course controversial and some would say, antithetical to our identity as a nation of freedom. Interestingly, though, not much (or certainly not as much) attention was given to President Trump's Order relating to "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States." This particular order arguably is even more disturbing given that it directly impacts millions of immigrants (both legal and "illegal") here within our borders, as opposed to people trying to come in. President Trump's Order directs increased enforcement of our immigration laws through aggressive measures designed to affect a much broader swath of the population. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight some of these measures as they are fleshed out by the Administration. Of note, though, is Section 5 of the Order, which pertains to Enforcement Priorities. This section essentially, in one fell swoop, dismantles former President Obama's policy of focusing on only certain discrete segments of the population. In contrast, President Trump dramatically expands the class of targeted aliens to include:
•· Those who have been convicted of any criminal defense
•· Those who have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;
•· Those who have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;
•· Those who have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
•· Those who are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligations to depart the United States; or
•· Those who in the judgement of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
These changes will have tremendous ramifications for immigration practice and procedure. Detention and bond, removal defense, administrative closure, and prosecutorial discretion requests, to name a few, will be drastically affected. But the changes are not limited to enforcement. It is very likely that this shift in attitude will filter into other areas of immigration, namely, the benefits side of things. In other words, even though you may not find it in writing anywhere, naturalization, adjustment of status permanent residence applications, and other discretionary grants stand to influenced.
The foregoing is general information only. It is not intended as legal advice nor should it be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney.