President Trump’s Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”
President Trump has begun to lay the foundation for the work ahead by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As background information for this department, the DHS is responsible for directing three agencies related to immigration: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These three agencies are directly responsible for securing the borders, detaining documented and undocumented individuals, and making a decision on immigration benefits. Therefore, any policy that comes out of the DHS will have a direct impact to anyone seeking immigration assistance in the United States.
While at the forefront of this executive order is the issue of “sanctuary cities” and how the Federal government plans to implement their intentions to “authorize State and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration officers” and to allow the Security of DHS to deem a city a “sanctuary city” thereby making them ineligible to receive Federal grants, there is another issue addressed in this executive order that will focus on the detention and removal of certain immigrants in our country.
The first is section (5) of the executive order, which lists the priorities for the removal of individuals in the United States. “Removal” is the term that is now used when someone is sent to immigration court and face the possibility of deportation. The priorities are essentially directives to ICE to channel their efforts to charge individuals that fall within the categories that are listed by DHS. Therefore, this section is telling ICE, who is in charge of removals, to focus their attention on the following individuals that fall under one or more of these categories:
- Have been convicted of any criminal offense
- Have been charge with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved
- Have committed acts that constitute a criminal offense
- Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a government agency
- Have abused any program related to the receipt of public benefits
- Have a final order of removal, but have not left the U.S.
- In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety and national security.
While these are the focus of attention from President Trump’s executive order, the DHS is also responsible for issuing their own memorandums on their priorities. Therefore, while we await for further instructions and clarity from DHS, we should be mindful and aware that any one of these seven categories can pose a risk of removal to an individual in the United States who is subject to one of the categories.
There are immigration benefits that might cure one of these categories and therefore it is extremely important, critical, and essential to get in contact with an experienced immigration attorney to help plan and prepare for the new policies enlisted by DHS. Our office is available to assist with this plan, and at the very least, provide a free consultation to answer your immediate questions.
Another important note taken from this executive order is on section (10). There, President Trump and the Executive branch has instructed DHS to take immediate action to terminate Former President Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program and reinstitute the “Secure Communities” memorandum, which was discontinued by the Obama administration in 2014. The Secure Communities program allowed the fingerprints of individuals arrested by state and local law enforcement to be sent to DHS in order to identify a person with immigration history. There were issues with this program in the past, and will likely pose additional problems moving forward.
For additional information regarding “Secure Communities,” you can visit the National Immigration Law Center website at https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/scomm-no-rules-of-road-2011-03-0/ and the ICE website at https://www.ice.gov/secure-communities#a2. The complete Executive Order can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united.
To reach one of our attorneys for additional information and assistance on an immigration-related matter, please contact us.