Keeping true to his campaign promises, President Trump issued two sweeping Executive Orders Wednesday to deport illegal aliens, sanctioning so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” policies for dealing with asylum seekers and boosting the ranks of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and immigration judges, among other policy directives regarding illegal immigration.
Not surprisingly, the political reaction was split squarely between partisan lines, with congressional Democrats and pro-illegal immigration organizations issuing blistering condemnations of the Executive Orders.
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, quickly stated that, “President Trump’s fantasy of sealing the border with a wall is driven by racial and ethnic bias that disgraces America’s proud tradition of protecting vulnerable migrants. The DHS deportation force has a track record of racial profiling and excessive force abuses, and expanding it will further erode the rights of millions of people who call our safe border communities home. Locking up asylum seekers who pose no danger or flight risk is unconstitutional and benefits nobody except private prison corporations and politicians looking to score rhetorical points.”
Jadwat said, “We will see the Trump administration in court if they go down that road.”
Regarding Trump’s policy on sanctuary cities order, Jadwat said, “President Trump is threatening to punish localities for establishing constitutional safeguards and for protecting the public safety of their entire communities. He may hope that local officials will buckle under his threats, but they have been preparing to defend their policies and we will stand with them in court.”
The ACLU said it had “provided legal analysis of the anti-immigration proposals touted by then-candidate Trump,” and “concluded those proposals were illegal, unconstitutional and could lead to mass violations of civil liberties and rights.
Similarly, César J. Blanco, political director of the Latino Victory Project, stated, “We will not allow [Trump] to tear us apart and cast our communities as criminals just for the color of our skin.”
Blanco said, "The executive actions on immigration … are simply un-American. President Trump’s executive actions go against the principles and values that our country was founded on and will only tear families apart. These executive actions seem to be part of his efforts to delegitimize our democracy and our values. We must respond to his actions by defending Latinos and all minorities from threats against our humanity.”
Trump’s Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, stated, “Border security is critically important to the national security of the United States. Aliens who illegally enter the United States without inspection or admission present a significant threat to national security and public safety. Such aliens have not been identified or inspected by federal immigration officers to determine their admissibility to the United States. The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on federal resources and overwhelmed agencies charged with border security and immigration enforcement, as well as the local communities into which many of the aliens are placed.”
The order stated the administration’s policy is that, “Transnational criminal organizations operate sophisticated drug- and human-trafficking networks and smuggling operations on both sides of the southern border, contributing to a significant increase in violent crime and United States deaths from dangerous drugs. Among those who illegally enter are those who seek to harm Americans through acts of terror or criminal conduct. Continued illegal immigration presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States.”
Further, the order stated as policy that, “Federal immigration law both imposes the responsibility and provides the means for the federal government, in cooperation with border states, to secure the nation’s southern border. Although federal immigration law provides a robust framework for federal-state partnership in enforcing our immigration laws and the Congress has authorized and provided appropriations to secure our borders [and] the federal government has failed to discharge this basic sovereign responsibility. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently and humanely.”
Under Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the President “declare[ed] the policy of the executive branch to be, and order” that “Interior enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly so for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.”
Going after ‘Sanctuary Cities’
The order emphasized that, “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”
“Tens of thousands of removable aliens have been released into communities across the country, solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation. Many of these aliens are criminals who have served time in our federal, state and local jails,” the order stated, noting, “The presence of such individuals in the United States, and the practices of foreign nations that refuse the repatriation of their nationals, are contrary to the national interest.”
“Although federal immigration law provides a framework for federal-state partnerships in enforcing our immigration laws to ensure the removal of aliens who have no right to be in the United States, the federal government has failed to discharge this basic sovereign responsibility,” the order stated as a matter of policy. “We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”
With regard to “sanctuary jurisdictions … It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a state, or a political subdivision of a state, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.” And, “In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary [of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)], in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the [DHS] secretary. The secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of federal law.”
“To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the [DHS] secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens,” the order directed.
The order also directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget “to obtain and provide relevant and responsive information on all federal grant money that currently is received by any sanctuary jurisdiction.”
More broadly, President Trump ordered, “It is the policy of the executive branch to detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating federal or state law, including federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations; expedite determinations of apprehended individuals’ claims of eligibility to remain in the United States; remove promptly those individuals whose legal claims to remain in the United States have been lawfully rejected, after any appropriate civil or criminal sanctions have been imposed; and cooperate fully with States and local law enforcement in enacting federal-state partnerships to enforce federal immigration priorities, as well as state monitoring and detention programs that are consistent with federal law and do not undermine federal immigration priorities.”
Further, “It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure the faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States, including the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act], against all removable aliens, consistent with Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution and section 3331 of title 5, United States Code; make use of all available systems and resources to ensure the efficient and faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States; ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable federal law do not receive federal funds, except as mandated by law; ensure that aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed; and support victims, and the families of victims, of crimes committed by removable aliens.”
In executing faithfully the immigration laws of the United States, the DHS Secretary is directed to prioritize for removal those aliens described by the Congress in sections 212(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 235, and 237(a)(2) and (4) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 1225, and 1227(a)(2) and (4)), as well as removable aliens 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.
The Trump administration’s new policy also directs the DHS secretary to “immediately take all appropriate actions to ensure the detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from the country to the extent permitted by law. The secretary shall issue new policy guidance to all Department of Homeland Security personnelregarding the appropriate and consistent use of lawful detention authority under the INA, including the termination of the practice commonly known as ‘catch and release,’ whereby aliens are routinely released in the United States shortly after their apprehension for violations of immigration law.”
Additionally, the new administration’s policy orders a review of previous immigration actions and policies, and that the DHS Secretary John Kelly “shall immediately take all appropriate action to terminate the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) described in the memorandum issued by” former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on November 20, 2014, and to reinstitute the immigration program known as ‘Secure Communities’ referenced in that memorandum.
DHS’s Priority Enforcement Program enabled DHS to work with state and local law enforcement to take custody of individuals who pose a danger to public safety before those individuals are released. PEP discontinued the Secure Communities program and focused on convicted criminals and others who pose a danger to public safety.
According to DHS, “Under PEP, ICE will only seek transfer of individuals in state and local custody in specific, limited circumstances. ICE will only issue a detainer where an individual fits within DHS’s narrower enforcement priorities and ICE has probable cause that the individual is removable. In many cases, rather than issue a detainer, ICE will instead request notification (at least 48 hours, if possible) of when an individual is to be released. ICE will use this time to determine whether there is probable cause to conclude that the individual is removable.”
Trump’s executive orders direct that, “It is the policy of the executive branch to empower state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
In furtherance of this policy, the DHS Secretary “shall immediately take appropriate action to engage with the governors of the states, as well as local officials, for the purpose of preparing to enter into agreements under section 287(g) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1357(g)).”
Under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, DHS may deputize selected state and local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents.
The Trump administration’s new policy established that, “To the extent permitted by law, and with the consent of state or local officials, as appropriate, the [DHS] Secretary shall take appropriate action, through agreements under section 287(g) of the INA, or otherwise, to authorize state and local law enforcement officials, as the secretary determines are qualified and appropriate, to perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension or detention of aliens in the United States under the direction and the supervision of the secretary. Such authorization shall be in addition to, rather than in place of, federal performance of these duties.”
Additionally, “To the extent permitted by law, the [DHS] Secretary may structure each agreement under section 287(g) of the INA in the manner that provides the most effective model for enforcing federal immigration laws and obtaining operational control over the border for that jurisdiction.”
The political response
House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), said in a statement, “For years, Americans have demanded that Washington do its job and secure our borders. Today, President Trump took bold action to finally make it happen. I applaud the President for moving swiftly to put in place the multi-layered barrier defenses we need to keep criminals, drugs and potential terrorists out of our country.”
“But the President didn’t stop there,” he said. “He is putting an end to the last administration’s reckless immigration policies by ensuring we don’t just ‘catch and release’ illegal aliens, but that we catch and deport them—especially those who have committed crimes. Finally, President Trump is sending a clear message to cities: if you harbor illegal aliens and refuse to comply with federal law, you will be stripped of federal grant dollars. I will work closely with the White House to ensure the administration has all necessary resources and authorities to secure our border, enforce our laws and protect the United States.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said, “Less than a week after President Trump took office, he is honoring his commitment to secure the border. Close to half a million illegal immigrants cross our borders every year. They take jobs away from American workers and reduce the wages of other American workers. They often use government services, which costsAmerican taxpayers. I have long supported efforts to secure our borders and appreciate the President’s efforts to do so.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) added, “President Trump has begun to deliver on his promises by taking sensible action to secure the border and enforce the law. For the past eight years, our country suffered under the Obama administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws. The Obama administration’s policies compromised Americans’ safety by allowing dangerous criminal aliens to remain in the United States and by refusing to crack down on sanctuary policies. Its policies also undermined the integrity of our immigration system and led to the surge of Central American minors and families seeking to come to the US illegally.”
“President Trump’s executive action will reverse the Obama administration’s disastrous policies in order to help secure the border, prevent human trafficking, enhance public safety and stop illegal immigration. I look forward to working with President Trump to take legislative action to further enhance border security, restore the rule of law and improve our nation’s immigration laws,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte had repeatedly demanded former DHS Secretary Johnson provide information on criminal acts by illegal aliens who were never deported, despite their repeated criminal acts in the US after repeatedly being deported, as Homeland Security Today has reported.
"Now we must continue our efforts to pass Sarah’s Law so that this policy becomes the permanent, enforceable, law of the land," said Rep. David Young (R-Iowa).
Earlier this year, Young reintroduced Sarah’s Law (HR 300), which is legislation in honor Sarah Root, who was struck and killed last year by an undocumented immigrant who was drag racing while intoxicated. The legislation would require US ICE to take custody of any individual who has entered or remains in the United States illegally, and is also charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. The legislation would also require ICE to make reasonable efforts to update crime victims or their families with relevant information about the criminal or the federal agency’s efforts.
"Sarah’s family never saw justice served because her killer was released at large because of the absolute failure of enforcing our nation’s federal immigration laws," Young said. "He remains at-large because of legal, and federal enforcement agency, missteps … I applaud the President for including directives to ‘detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating federal or state law, including federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations."
Federation for American Immigration Reform President Dan Stein said in a statement that, “President Trump’s executive actions are an historic, much-needed course correction in America’s approach to immigration policy, which has been on autopilot for decades. By taking meaningful steps to regain border security and enhance interior immigration enforcement, the administration is underscoring the primacy of the national interest. These long overdue policy steps will protect public safety …”
“For far too long,” Stein said, “criminal aliens have walked the streets of America because their home countries have refused to take them back. The administration’s decision to withhold visas from those countries until they accept the return of their citizens will both reduce crime and save American lives.”
“The president’s decision to strip federal funds from dangerous sanctuary cities is also a welcomed move,” he stated. “While this action will not bring back the thousands of innocent lives lost or destroyed by reckless sanctuary policies, it will go a long way to making sure this senseless and preventable carnage doesn’t continue.”
Stein said FAIR’s sanctuary city report breaks out by state 300 known sanctuary jurisdictions across the country, “with most having enacted their sanctuary policies since President Obama took office in 2009.”
“Looking forward,” Stein continued, “we hope the administration moves quickly on securing the workplace against illegal immigration. The jobs magnet continues to lure illegal immigrants to the US. Implementing mandatory E-Verify will ensure that American jobs are reserved for legal US workers.”
Just as other Democrats were expected to lambast Trump’s new immigration policies, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) added, “This is a deeply troubling day. With today’s executive orders, this president has transformed his anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric into destructive action which is intolerant, fiscally irresponsible and dangerous."
"Under these executive orders," she asserted, "DREAMers who have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will never be safe from ICE apprehension, asylum seekers will face long-term detention, the discredited 287(g) program will be revived, local jurisdictions will be forced to choose between their share of federal funding and keeping faith with their local communities … America’s strength is that it has always been a nation of immigrants. Demonizing our nation’s patriotic and hardworking immigrant population goes against our American values, and will weaken our great country.”