Walls, DACA and Raids: What has happened in immigration since Trump’s inauguration?

Back in November, we made some predictions about what might occur in a Trump presidency as it relates to immigration.  Generally, we were very pessimistic and presumed that almost all areas of immigration would become more difficult and challenging for immigrants, families and communities.  This has proven to be true, but not in all of the ways we anticipated.  In some areas, such as refugees and admission policies, the administration has been as bad as expected.  In others, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the administration has seemed reluctant to take big steps leaving many nervously watching the news for any indication of his plans for DACA holders.  We will break this up into three broad categories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The “Good”

The “Bad”

  • Enforcement.  The Department of Homeland Security has issued new guidance to ICE agents in the field.  The basic approach to immigration enforcement for the last couple of years has been, as a general rule, not to initiate removal proceedings against individuals with family ties in the U.S., a lengthy residence in the U.S., no criminal or serious fraud record.  This approach, known as the exercise of discretion, has been criticized by many ICE agents and anti-immigrant politicians as “tying the hands” of law enforcement officials. The new guidance has sought to “unshackle” ICE agents.  The new guidance states that ICE should seek to enforce immigration law (put people into deportation proceedings) in all cases.  This means that ICE should bring removal proceedings for any number of immigration violations, such as failure to file a change of address or to carry a copy of one’s residence card.  Rather than focus on those immigrants that ostensibly present a danger to the community, the government seems to be targeting any and all immigration violations equally.   In addition, particularly troubling is the government’s intention to try to expand expedited removal.  Expedited removal is a form of deportation that applies in limited circumstances and in limited sensitive zones like ports of entry and near the border.  When the government can impose expedited removal, an individual has no right to a hearing in front of an immigration judge, which gives authority to ICE to enter removal orders.  The administration seeks to extend this authority to immediately remove anyone who may have been in the country for less than two years.  Of course, this raises the practical question of whether individuals should walk around with several years tax returns and other documentation.  In light of what we know about ICE and the abuse of authority, we are very concerned that the expedited removal process could be applied against anyone who can not prove in a random encounter that they have been here for more than two years.  ICE does not yet have this authority but the fact that they wrote about it makes it clear that they want this authority.

ICE

The “Ugly”

  • Asylum.  The government has sought to restrict access to asylum by imposing more stringent status for when individuals can demonstrate a credible or reasonable fear of persecution, a preliminary adjudication for many asylum seekers.  Dree Collopy explains how they have done that here:

  • The Wall.  The government seems to be going ahead with its plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.  The administration ordered lots of studies and the President’s new budget seeks funds to hire new lawyers at the Department of Justice to fight land claims from property owners upset about having their property seized by the government to build a wall.  In the meantime, landowners in Texas have already received notice that the government seeks their land.  There is no word whether Mexico will pay for the wall.  But Saturday Night Live thinks he won’t.  Enjoy a laugh.  You need it if you made it this far.

 

 

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