President Donald Trump issued two executive orders addressing immigration issues on Jan. 25. The first—Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements— says many aliens who illegally enter the U.S. pose a threat to national security and place American communities at risk.
The executive order asserts that protecting the southern border is of paramount importance and notes that thus far, the federal government has not lived up to its responsibilities with respect to this issue. It directs federal 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.” The executive order states the following policy positions:
- The southern border shall be secured by building a wall that will be appropriately staffed. Those suspected of entering the country illegally shall be detained and receive expedited hearings. People who are determined, by proper process, to be in the U.S. illegally shall be removed immediately.
- The executive branch should work cooperatively with state and local law enforcement to form appropriate partnerships to enforce federal immigration priorities and support state monitoring programs “that are consistent with federal law and do not undermine” these priorities.
- The secretary of homeland security shall take steps to ensure the prevention of all unlawful entries into the U.S. by designing and constructing the wall, identifying and allocating all available funding the wall’s construction, developing long-term funding for the wall, and producing a comprehensive security study of the southern border within 180 days of the executive order. The secretary must also issue agency guidance on the detention of illegal entrants that must include the termination of “catch and release” for violations of U.S. immigration laws.
- The secretary shall allocate available funding to construct, control and provide sufficient staff to oversee detention facilities at the southern border. The attorney general shall take immediate action to assign immigration judges to these facilities. The secretary must also take appropriate action, consistent with federal law, to return illegal aliens to their territory of origin.
- The secretary shall hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents. This is subject to appropriations.
- All federal agencies must identify and report the amount of federal aid that Mexico receives annually. Within 60 days of this order, a consolidated report showing this data over the last five years shall be submitted to the president.
- State and local law enforcement are empowered to act as immigration officers. With the consent of state and local officials and in addition to, not in place of, federal performance of these duties, state and local law enforcement shall act as immigration officers with respect to investigating, apprehending and detaining aliens. The secretary is directed to work with governors and enter into memoranda of understanding (287(g)) agreements with states and localities.
- Parole and asylum provisions of federal law shall be strictly enforced and not abused. Unaccompanied minor alien children must be properly processed and safely repatriated, when appropriate, in accordance with federal law.
- Southern border prosecutions are high priority. The attorney general shall allocate sufficient funding and resources to ensure this.
- The secretary shall publicly report the number of apprehended aliens at the southern border and submit a report to the president on the progress of the directives contained in this order within 90 days. The attorney general has 180 days to do the same.
The second executive order—Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States—addresses the issue of aliens who enter the U.S. illegally and those who overstay their visas. These people “present a significant threat to national security and public safety.” It also states that sanctuary jurisdictions are in willful violation of federal law and “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” This executive order establishes the following policy principles:
- Enforcement of all federal immigration laws to the fullest extent possible and removal all illegal aliens promptly.
- All federal funding shall be withheld from sanctuary jurisdictions except as mandated by law.
- Victims and victims’ families who have had crimes committed against them by illegal aliens shall receive support.
- Removal priorities shall be addressed in the following order: aliens convicted of any criminal offense; aliens charged, but not yet convicted of any criminal offense; aliens who have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; aliens who engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation toward a government agency; aliens who have abused any public benefits program; aliens who have not complied with any removal order; aliens who, in the judgment of an immigration officer, pose a risk to public safety or national security.
- The secretary is authorized to assess and collect fines and penalties from those unlawfully in the United States.
- The secretary shall hire 10,000 immigration officers subject to appropriations.
- Reiterates that state and local law enforcement are empowered to perform the duties of an immigration officer and promotes a federal/state partnership through the 287(g) process.
- Sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible to receive federal grants except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes. The secretary has the authority to designate a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The attorney general is directed to take appropriate enforcement action against sanctuary jurisdictions.
- To inform the public of the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the secretary, on a weekly basis, shall make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or failed to honor any detainers.
- The Priority Enforcement Program is terminated and the Secure Communities program is reinstituted.
- Diplomatic relations with foreign countries shall include a requirement that they accept their nationals subject to removal by the U.S..
- The secretary shall establish an Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens.
- Agencies shall ensure that their privacy policies exclude non-U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act with respect to personally identifiable information.
- The attorney general shall provide quarterly reports the immigration status of all federally detained or incarcerated aliens and those incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers.