Trump’s Interior Immigration Enforcement–Dystopian Nightmare? What America Wants? Or, Going Nowhere Without $$?

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The second of two Executive Orders on Immigration, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” appears to be intended to fulfill Trump’s Radical Anti-Immigration pledge to “fully” enforce U.S. Immigration law.  Just curious as to when he will “fully” enforce U.S. Tax Law, or U.S. criminal law, both of which would have far greater benefits to the American economy and society than targeting immigrants.  Remember, Immigrants are the canary in the coal mine. 

Let’s take a look at what Trump has ordered the executive branch to do.  

1.  Trump is eliminating former President Obama’s “Enforcement Priorities” memo, which had limited the deportation efforts of ICE to individuals convicted of felonies, serious misdemeanors (like DUI), and to recent arrivals (those ordered deported after January 1, 2014).  Trump now expands the “ Enforcement Priorities” to include letter of the law enforcement.  But Trump’s ICE will not just target anyone convicted of “any” criminal offense (in Georgia traffic offenses are misdemeanor criminal offenses), but will also arrest and put into deportation proceedings anyone charged with any criminal offense, even when that charge hasn’t been resolved (so much for innocent until proven guilty), those who have “have committed acts that constitute chargeable criminal offenses” (whatever that means to the officer arresting the person), those who have “engaged” in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter (not just immigration), those who have “abused” any program related to the receipt of public benefits (undocumented immigrants are barred from access to any public benefits programs in the US, and so do not use them), those who have a final order of removal (Obama did this for 6 of his 8 years), and those who are “a risk to public safety or national security, in the judgment of an immigration officer” (whatever that means an extra-statutory grant of authority to low level government employees).

2.  Trump want to collect fines from people who are unlawfully present, as well as from those who facilitate their presence  Presumably, that means that Trump wants to prosecute those who have violated immigration laws. There is currently no fine for people who are unlawfully present, but there are several different provisions in US immigration law that allow for the fining people who aid and abet illegal immigration, but those require a criminal conviction.  Frankly, this section is so vague as to have no meaning, unless it is a directive to the Department of Justice to start prosecuting employers.  Under an Attorney General Jeff Sessions, I can assure that will happen.  

3.  Trump want to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers. Good luck with that.  Especially with his other executive order in place requiring a hiring freeze!  You might guess where this is going to end up in the funding process at ICE.  Has anyone thought that even if you did this, and hired 10,000 new law enforcement officers to work for ICE, that this would technically be a “temp”job?

4.  Trump is doubling down on INA 287(g), the provision of federal law that empowers State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer.  As noted in our comments on Trump’s other executive on immigration–many law enforcement officers find that engaging in immigration enforcement operations actually increases crime because it eliminates the benefits of community policing.

5.  The mystical beast–The Sanctuary City is a key part of Trump’s executive order in that he is going to try to deny federal law enforcement and other funding to cities which refused to comply with the non-mandatory ICE hold. The result here is simple. He cannot do this.  Long standing conservative Supreme Court decision bar his plan. Perhaps more important, however, is the simple fact that ICE can actually enforce its “holds” if it includes probable cause or a warrant with them. Otherwise, they are not mandatory, they are simply another cost passed unto the state or city without federal reimbursement. I think they call that an “unfunded mandate.”  Maybe some of the 10,000 new officers can actually do this?   This is going nowhere.  

6. In conjunction with his doubling down on 287(g) expansion, trump is reinstating “Secure Communities.”  What Trump does not tell you here is that in practice this is no change.  Since early in Obama’s presidency anyone arrested in the US has had there information shared with ICE.  ICE then uses that information to place voluntary “holds” on people.  This never ended, and in fact has come to include virtually every arrest in the U.S. today.  

7.  Trump wants to increase Operation Streamline, and expand it to prosecute every type of criminal immigration offense.  Obviously, there are neither the Department of Justice resources, nor the jail space to make this happen, so this is more for optics that a reality that will occur.  However, with radical anti-immigrant Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, there will no doubt be an increase in immigration prosecutions.  

8. Trump wants to force “recalcitrant” countries to accept their foreign nationals should be chose to send them back “home.” This is a long standing and legitimate concern.   He clearly has the authority under our immigration law to refuse to issues visas to people from countries that do not take all their citizens back.  I wonder, however, if he really wants to deny visas to Indians?

9. Trump wants to have ICE establish an office to provide services to victims of crimes committed by deportable foreign nationals.  This a good idea, since it was ICE’s responsibility to deport such people. But the question is what will this office do?  There is no funding provided for any services to be offered.  

10.  A very powerful changed ordered by Trump is to try to strip Privacy Act protection from anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident. Right now, all immigration records are sealed from public view.  If this comes to fruition all immigration records of every immigrant would be open to public inspection until they have lawful permanent residence.  While some would say that is a good thing, keep in mind that means enormous amounts of personal data become available to anyone who wants it. It is clear the President (and DHS) can do this.

11.  Finally, President Trump wants a quarterly report reflecting all foreign nationals serving time in the federal system, and showing the immigration status of all “convicted aliens” in state facilities. This is clearly being done to show people “how much” crime is out there among immigrants. What this will actually show is how little crime is committed by immigrants, in comparison to native born citizens.  

So there you have Trump’s current stance on making America safe from immigrants. Sadly, these efforts will do little to add to our security, but will do much to disrupt American families, scare entire communities, and hurt our economy.  

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Hiba Ghalib


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