What The Trump Executive Orders and Kelly Memos Mean to Immigrants

Trump issued two executive orders targeting immigrants in January 2017. The first one banned entrants from 7 "Muslim" countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Sudan. These countries were targeted because their governments are "weak" and unable to retaliate, and they are not US allies, not because of terrorist acts. The ban stated that no visas could be issued to anyone from the 7 countries and no one could be admitted to the US, including lawful permanent residents (later Secretary Kelly stated it no longer included residents). USCIS was also instructed to approve no immigration benefits in the US for citizens of these countries. The order states this is for of 90 days, but states any country that doesn't cooperate in reporting suspected terrorist can be added to the list, so presumably many of these countries will remain on the list for "non cooperation." Due to a lawsuit currently pending in Washington State, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed this order, and it is not currently in effect. The order also suspended admission of all Syrian refugees with no end date and suspended admission of all refugees for 120 days.

The second order states that the US will build a wall between the US and Mexico (cost estimated at $21 billion for 1250 miles of fencing), hire 5,000 CBP agents, try to find ways to limit aid to Mexico, purportedly to pay for the wall, limit paroles into the United States including paroles for asylum seekers and immediate family members of military members, and revive the failed 287(g) program - which deputize local law enforcement to detain immigrants to do not have status for ICE to come pick them up and initiate removal (deportation) proceedings. The Kelly memo states this program will be extended to "any willing jurisdiction."

The Kelly memos go beyond the executive orders. They call for the following people to be a priority for deportation:

Anyone charged with a crime and the charges are unresolved (guilty until proven innocent)

nyone convicted of a crime

Anyone who has committed a crime but not been charge (this is extremely overboard and could essentially mean anything)

Anyone who has Committed Fraud

Anyone who has Received Public benefits (this is very broad; immigrants can't get many public benefits anyway except emergency medicaid and a few others)

Anyone with a Deportation order (keep in mind sometimes people get ordered deported in their absence if they move and do not receive the hearing notice i.e. were not advised / did not know to update their address)

Are a Risk to public safety (sounds important. what does this mean?)

Deportations will be fast tracked. 10,000 additional ICE agents and 5,000 CBP agents will be hired (currently CBP is not able to fill all the existing vacancies for officers). Prosecutorial discretion will be decreased or eliminated (this means ICE has no power to look at individual circumstances to allow for anyone to be exempted from deportation for compelling circumstances). Privacy protections for personal data of non citizens will be rolled back or eliminated (it's not clear how yet). 

* The American Immigration Lawyers' Association notes that to detain everyone in a deportation process would cause the detention of immigrations to be quadrupled to 200,000 (currently at 40,000-50,000 which is beyond current funding allocations). 

The memo calls for an expansion of expedited removal. Expedited removal is deportation without a hearing. It means being deported without ever getting to see a judge. A CBP officer, who is a cowboy with little accountability and much discretion, is the judge. Currently those apprehended within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entry to the US can be expeditiously removed and it's use has been used far more expansively in the last couple years than ever before. This memo calls for the expansion of expedited removal nationwide to anyone who entered the US within the last 2 years. We therefore advise our clients to carry proof WITH THEM that they have been present in the US for over 2 years - like bills, bank statements, taxes, W2's etc.

The memo calls to return illegal entrants to Mexico or Canada, whether they are citizens of Mexico or Canada or not, detain them in Mexico or Canada, and hold televideo or telephone hearing for these individuals. * Note, Mexico has already refused to cooperate with this initiative. 

The memo calls for increased standard for Credible Fear Interviews - additional materials to asylum officers have jus been released talking about changing the standard for passing these interviews from "significant possibility" to "reasonable doubt" (these interview do not give someone asylum, they just give them the right to apply instead of being subjected to expedited removal. Increasing the standard s problematic because most of the time these people are detained, treated very poorly, and have little opportunity to understand the significance of the process or get any advice about what to say). 

Paroles will be greatly limited and will no longer have "predesignated categories." We thought this was huge for military families, but despite the language in the memo they appear to be walking it back and saying it doesn't apply. Military spouses, children, and parents currently can get "parole in place" meaning if they did not enter the US with a visa, they can apply for a parole from within the US so that they will then be eligible for adjustment of status (green card) through sponsorship (usually by the solider). At first, it appeared this program would be eliminated, causing hardship and separation on military families, but now they are contradicting and stating this is not the case. 

Unaccompanied minors will get no protections if their parents are in the US. The accusatory language here for parents who bring their children in does not take into account that many of these children are fleeing Central America due to the extreme gang violence and conditions there. 

The impact of these orders will be huge. It already is. Families will be split up. People will be put in harm's way. Abuses will happen. Racial profiling will happen. Constitutional violations will happen. People will be deported indiscriminately regardless of their family ties, good record in this country, long term residence here, etc. Every law on the books will be enforced in the broadest way possible with little room for discretion.