Immigration-Related Executive Orders: Week of Jan 23

The media and social media has been abuzz this past week about the recent Executive Orders that Mr. Trump has signed. Two orders were published on January 25, 2017 regarding immigration policy—“Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” & “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”. A third, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” was published late Friday.

Key Points of Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

This order addresses concerns with public safety connected to foreign nationals who are in violation of immigration laws. The order particularly discusses sanctuary jurisdictions, removable aliens, and federal-state partnerships. The key points are as follows:

  1. The order prioritizes prosecutorial efforts aimed at aliens ineligible for visas or admission based on criminal activity, at illegal entrants by misrepresentation, at aliens involved in expedited removal, at deportable aliens based on criminal or security.[1] Other listed enforcement priorities include removable aliens: convicted of any crime, charged with any criminal offense where the charge is unresolved, involved in fraud or willful misrepresentation before a governmental agency; abused a receipt of public benefits programs; noncompliant with a final order of removal; or otherwise posing a risk to public safety or national security in the judgment of an immigration officer.

What does this mean? Basically, the order says that now they are prioritizing the removal of a wider scope of foreign nationals than has been prioritized under the previous administration.

  1. The order calls for ICE to hire an additional 10,000 immigration officers, for enforcement purposes.

  1. The order addresses federalism and immigration enforcement. The order promotes creating agreements involving local and state governments related to engage in certain immigration enforcement action. Respectively, the DHS Secretary and Attorney General are tasked with designating, reporting on, and taking enforcement actions against sanctuary jurisdictions, which are defined as jurisdictions as not in compliance with 8 USC 1373.[2]

  1. The order also mandates the creation of guidance and regulations “to ensure the assessment and collection of all fines and penalties” that the government is authorized to assess and collect from foreign nationals who are unlawfully present in the U.S. and from “those who facilitate their presence in the United States.”

Key Points of Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements

The stated purpose of this Executive Order centers on border security, particularly along the United States-Mexico border. The Executive Order describes policy for constructing a border wall, detaining certain persons, expediting determinations and removal processes, cooperating with state and local law enforcement, and repatriating foreign nationals. The order encourages the hiring of additional border patrol agents. The Secretary of State is tasked with collecting data and reporting on aid directed to Mexico. Similarly, the DHS Secretary must report data about aliens apprehended in connection with the southern border.

Similar to its companion Executive Order, this order emphasizes local enforcement efforts and agreements between the Federal government and state and local governments. This order also revives the “Secure Communities” program. Generally, the Secure Communities program entailed the sharing of biometric information between criminal and immigration databases and related enforcement efforts. The order prioritizes prosecutions connected to the southern border.

Guidelines for the New Immigration Environment

Please note that the following suggestions cannot be considered to be legal advice. You must consult with a qualified immigration attorney before taking or refraining from taking any action.

  1. Be sure that at least two trusted individuals know your name, date of birth, country of origin, and A number if you have one, and have the contact information for your immigration attorney.
  2. If you are a lawful permanent resident, student, visitor, or in other lawful status, carry a copy of your green card, I-94 card, or other proof of status with you.
  3. If you are here on a student, visitor, exchange, or temporary worker status, consult with a lawyer before traveling out of the U.S.
  4. If you are from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, or Somalia, it is highly likely you will not be able to return if you leave the U.S.
  5. If you have DACA, consult with an attorney before traveling on an Advance Parole.
  6. If you have a pending I-589 asylum application, I-360 application or I-485 adjustment of status application, carry a copy of the receipt with you and give a copy to a trusted person.
  7. If you have a valid social security card, driver’s license, and/or work permit, carry that with you and give a copy to a trusted person.
  8. If you are not currently in valid nonimmigrant or immigrant status for any reason, and have been in the U.S. for more than two years, assemble proof of your presence here for at least two years. Proof could be bank statements, phone bills, rent receipts, your signature on your children’s report cards, or other documents. Carry a copy of these documents with you, and give a copy a trusted person. Do not carry with you any document that says where you were born. This is because it is possible that individuals who have been in the U.S. for less than two years could be deprived of the right to defend themselves in immigration court.
  9. If you are afraid of being persecuted in your home country and have not yet filed for asylum, consult with a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible to analyze your asylum case.
  10. If you have children, they should always have the name and contact information of a trusted person, and the trusted person should have your information.
  11. If you do not have a license, do not drive.
  12. If you are stopped by police on the street, do not answer any questions other than your name. Tell them you have the right to remain silent and ask if you are free to leave.
  13. If you are arrested. Repeat clearly that you want to remain silent and you want a lawyer. Do not answer any questions other than your name. Call a trusted person and tell them to hire a lawyer.
  14. If someone comes to your door saying “Police, open up” do not open the door. Ask the officials if they have a warrant, to pass it under the door. Take a photo of the warrant and send it to a lawyer or other trusted person. If the warrant is not signed by a judge or magistrate and does not have your name and address on it, you do not have to open the door.

What happens next? These immigration-related executive orders were issued quickly, within the first week of Mr. Trump having taken office. We anticipate that more immigration-related executive orders may be issued in the coming days or weeks. It is difficult to anticipate exactly how these executive orders will play out as time goes on. We stand in solidarity with our foreign national clients, families, friends, and neighbors and hope to be able to safely guide our clients through these challenging times.

If you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter, please contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at to learn how we can assist. We look forward to hearing from you!

[1] The EO lists 212(a)(2),(6)(C); 235; 237(a)(2), (4).

[2] 8 USC 1373 relates to communications between governmental entities concerning information about the citizenship or immigration status of individuals.