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Trump Signs Two Executive Orders on Immigration and Border Security

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On Wednesday, President Trump signed two executive orders: one on immigration (“Interior Order”) and another on border security (“Border Security Order”). The orders contained a number of provisions designed to execute key elements of his hard liner agenda: including sanctuary cities, enforcement priorities and cracking down on crime.

Here are the key pieces from the two executive orders:

The Wall

The biggest piece of Trump’s first executive order was his long-promised wall on the border with Mexico. The measure instructs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take “steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border,” in order to “achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”

The measure includes instructions to figure out funding, including what federal money sources exist now and what the administration will need to request in congressional appropriations later. The order also calls for a study within six months on securing the southern border.

When signing the executive order, Trump continued to insist that Mexico will reimburse the U.S. for the wall after DHS builds it with federal funds. Despite Trump’s claims that Mexico pay, Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto continues to insist that this will not be the case.  The order however, directs agencies to conduct an analysis of all federal aid to Mexico over the past five years — previewing Trump’s vision for gaining leverage over Mexico.

Deportation Force

Both orders also sought to staff enforcement agencies. Specifically, the Border Security Order instructed DHS to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and the Interior Order called for the addition of 10,000 immigration officers. The Interior Order specifies that the additional immigration officers should be trained to perform duties including interrogating, detaining, arresting and searching for people believed to be non-citizens or non-nationals.

Both orders however, are “subject to available appropriations,” meaning the agency will need to find funds or Congress will need to appropriate them.

Detention Centers

The Border Security Order instructs the Secretary of DHS to allocate all legally available resources to construct or establish detention facilities near the border with Mexico and staff them with asylum officers and immigration judges. This means there could be significant efforts to put more immigrants behind bars if they are caught illegally crossing the border, or if they are in deportation proceedings. It is unclear how such measures would be funded, but it is likely that private prison companies, will be involved.

End ‘catch and release’

One of the most controversial elements of the orders is ending what Trump calls “catch and release,” This makes it harder for detained immigrants in removal proceedings to be released due to humanitarian concerns. Specifically, the order asks that the Secretary of DHS ensure that allowances in US immigration law to grant individuals asylum or parole based on concerns about persecution in their home country are not “exploited” to block deportations. The order states that provisions should only be used “when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.” The order also notes that unaccompanied children detained at the border are to receive care and be sent back to their home nations as appropriate.

Sanctuary Cities

Trump’s Interior Order also targets ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ –cities, states and other entities that through a range of policies shield undocumented immigrants from federal law enforcement. The order declares that “sanctuary jurisdictions” will be “not eligible” for federal grants, and it directs the Office of Management and Budget to compile federal grant money currently going to sanctuary jurisdictions.

Any attempts to enact this provision will almost certainly face a legal challenge: past court rulings have weighed in on the government stripping funds from states and cities to enforce policies and have found the measures must relate to the policy in question, must promote the general welfare and cannot be coercive.

While the administration likely cannot cut off all federal funding, as much of it is disbursed through Congress, the Executive Order could still put some pressure on current ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’.

Enforcement Priorities

The Interior Order also lays out new enforcement priorities for the government, which prioritize the deportation of criminals. However, the definition of ‘criminal’ is very broad. Per the order, priority will go toward removing deportable immigrants who “have been convicted of any criminal offense; have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved; have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency; have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

Based on the wording of the executive order, a criminal could include someone who is charged with, but not actually convicted, of a crime. The last provisions could include anyone who an immigration official feels endangers “public safety or national security,” even if that person doesn’t face charges — giving wide latitude to officers. And the term “criminal offense,” is not defined in the order and could include a wide range of charges.

This part of the executive order is also likely to face legal challenges from civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates, who have long argued the government’s approach to handling immigration cases violates due process.

Secure Communities 

Trump’s executive order also revives a controversial program that ended during the Obama administration: the “Secure Communities” program, which requires local authorities to share fingerprints and other arrest data to help track down undocumented immigrants. Back when Secure Communities had been in place, critics had claimed that the program generated mistrust amongst law enforcement and the communities and that it led to the deportations of immigrants who were in the United States illegally but had no criminal arrest records. Supporters had said it helped authorities catch criminals who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

International Pressure

The Interior Order also includes a provision on “recalcitrant countries” — a technical way of describing nations that do not cooperate in taking back nationals the US is seeking to deport. The order directs the secretaries of homeland security and state to put heavy pressure on those countries, including by levying sanctions against them. Mark Toner, acting State Department spokesman, said the department was reviewing the order and would work to implement it “immediately.”

Publicizing Crimes

The Interior Order contains two provisions to increase the public reporting of crimes related to illegal immigration. One provision directs U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to create an “Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens.” The office would offer services to victims of such crimes and to their family members, and would provide reports quarterly “studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.”

Another provision seeks “to better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions,” by using a weekly report to publish a list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and name and shame jurisdictions that ignored detention requests in relation to them.

To view the text of the Interior Order, please click here: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/25/text-trump-executive-order-on-enhancing-public-safety-in-interior-united-states.html

To view the text of the Border Security Order, please click here: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/25/text-trump-executive-order-on-border-security-and-immigration-enforcement-improvements.html

 

 

 

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