These are frightening times for undocumented immigrants in Florida. Last week we discussed President Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven countries. This week, we'll look at another other Trump executive order, entitled "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements."
The order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to immediately begin building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. It provides for the construction of additional detention facilities and the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. The order also contains several provisions that will affect immigrants without legal status who are already in the U.S.
The order requires the acceleration of legal proceedings to adjudicate detained immigrants' claims of eligibility to remain in the U.S. The order directs the prompt removal of those immigrants whose legal claims have been denied. These provisions create a real danger that due process protections for detained immigrants will be compromised in the push to expedite adjudication and removal.
The order also requires that all persons arrested for alleged violations of immigration law be locked up in detention centers pending the outcome of their cases. Whether this provision will be limited to those charged with illegal entry, or will apply to all alleged violations of U.S. immigration law, is unclear.
The order directs that state and local police be authorized to act as immigration officers and participate in the arrest and detention of persons accused of violating immigration laws. This provision creates a real danger that undocumented persons arrested for minor offenses - including traffic offenses - could be detained for immigration violations.
Finally, the order refers, without factual support, to alleged "abuses" of the asylum laws. It directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to make sure that the laws governing asylum and credible fear determinations are interpreted in accordance with the "plain language" of those laws. The directive is clearly intended to make asylum even harder to get than it already is.
Fighting detention and deportation under this order will require comprehensive knowledge of U.S. immigration law and innovative legal strategies. Immigrants who are concerned about how these orders will affect them would be wise to consult an experienced immigration lawyer.
Source: The White House, "Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements" Jan. 25, 2017