President Donald Trump recently signed two executive orders pertaining to immigration. They have gotten a lot of attention because they call for the creation of a wall between the United States and Mexico, and for cutting off federal funding for sanctuary cities.
However, as an article from Politico points out, there is a section entitled "Enforcement Priorities" that should not be overlooked, as it may have a dramatic impact on how immigration laws are enforced on a daily basis.
In terms of enforcement, the previous administration prioritized new arrivals, threats to national security and people with major criminal convictions. With his executive orders, Trump is expanding the priorities and asking immigration enforcement agents to also target undocumented immigrants who have been charged with a crime, even if not yet convicted, as well as those who have abused public benefits and those who have received a final order to leave the country.
While it is difficult to calculate the scope of these changes, the article points to a recent study that indicates there are approximately one million people who have received final orders, and the majority of them have no criminal convictions. In other words, a massive amount of people have now become priorities for immigration enforcement.
Arguments For And Against
There are many arguments on both sides of the issue. Those in favor remind that this does not constitute a change in immigration law, simply a change in how it is enforced. They argue that the previous administration narrowed priorities so much that it made it too easy for undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.
One of the key arguments against the changes, and one of the reasons the previous administration gave for narrowing priorities, has to do with resources. There is a finite budget and number of immigration enforcement officers. Those resources should be focused on the most serious threats.
Now Is The Time To Make It Legal
Immigrants who may be eligible for visas, green cards, citizenship or asylum should talk to an immigration law attorney immediately to review options for staying in the country legally and avoiding the threat of deportation. An experienced attorney may also be able to offer guidance in the event that deportation proceedings have already begun.