On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two Executive Orders, which impacted immigrants nationwide. No doubt you have heard about the building of a physical wall on the border with Mexico and back and forth argument on who will bear the cost. The impact of the Executive Orders, however, is much more serious than who gets to pay for the wall or than what has been reported on the news. In an attempt to avoid information overload, this blog will focus only on the more problematic aspects of each Order.

            The first Executive Order entitled “Border Security and immigration Enforcement” was signed on January 25, 2017 and it directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to allocate funds to construct a physical wall on the border with Mexico and detention facilities. In addition, the EO directs DHS to “empower [s]tate and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer” (EO, Sec. 10) under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In other words, state and local law enforcement will have the authority to investigate, apprehend, or detain aliens. These types of agreements under INA 287(g) were reduced significantly during the Obama administration because they were problematic and led to racial profiling and due process violations. Even more troubling is that, in conjunction with 287(g) agreements, the EO expands “expedited removal” to allow the removal of undocumented individual – including those with U.S. citizen spouses and children, without ever seeing an immigration judge. (AILA Doc. No. 17012505). Needless to say, the cost involved in building a wall is minimal next to the due process violations that are likely to occur when empowering state and local authorities to act as immigration officers, and when removing individuals without a court hearing.

            The second Executive Order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” was also signed on January 25, 2017 and it increases Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resources by hiring additional officers. Troubling, however, is the new enforcement priorities which basically changes the definition of who is a “criminal” for immigration purposes. In essence, the EO makes every undocumented individual a priority for removal, including those who “have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved,” those who “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” and, broadly, those who “otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security” (EO, Sec. 5). Under the language of the EO, priorities could also include those who have been charged with minor offenses such as jaywalking as well as those who have overstayed their visas. The EO raises serious due process concerns. For instance, anyone charged with a crime – but not yet convicted, could be subject of removal prior to resolution of their state case. In addition, the definition of who “pose[s] a risk to public safety or national security” is left to the discretion of the arresting Federal, state, or local agent. (AILA Doc. No. 17012506).

            Needless to say, the implications of each Executive Order are many, and anyone who is impacted by the Orders should immediately seek the advice of competent counsel.

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About Marie Wood

Marie is licensed to practice law in the State of California and throughout the United States in federal immigration matters. She is admitted to all California state courts, the Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern District Courts, and Immigration Courts. Marie joined Reid & Hellyer in 2016 and practices immigration law and transactional law. She has also represented individuals and lending institutions in civil litigation matters from inception of the case to post-judgment matters, and in exercising creditor rights in bankruptcy court. Marie immigrated to this country at a young age, and is fluent in Spanish. As an immigrant, she has personal knowledge of the emotional and financial struggles faced by individuals and families during the immigration process. This personal experience is what encouraged her to become an immigration attorney. Throughout the years she has volunteered countless hours at legal clinics and other events in which she has offered pro bono legal services in both immigration and civil matters. She is also a professor and teaches legal and business courses at Palomar Community College and is a guest speaker at California State University, San Marcos. Marie is the 2016 vice-president and 2017 president-elect of the Southwest Riverside County Bar Association. She is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the AILA San Diego Chapter, the Riverside and North County Bar Associations, and the Fiorenzo V. Lopardo Chapter of the American Inns of Court. Marie received her Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2009, where she graduated magna cum laude. While attending law school, she was a Notes Editor of the Thomas Jefferson Law Review, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, the country’s oldest legal fraternity.

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