Presidential Executive Orders on Immigration
Our office has gotten a lot of inquiries on what the recent Executive Orders mean, below is a short summary:
Border Wall/Build Up
DHS has already dramatically increased the use of detention and rapid removal procedures against those arriving at our borders. Unfortunately, these enforcement methods have been shown to undermine fundamental due process protections and deprive legitimate asylum seekers of protection.
“Catch and Release” Isn’t Being Used Now
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff ended “catch and release” – an unofficial term for the practice of releasing people apprehended at the border while their cases are waiting to be heard in immigration court – over a decade ago, and began holding more people in detention while they await their court dates.
DHS has also applied more severe consequences to individuals caught in border regions. In particular, it began issuing more removal orders against individuals rather than returning people across the border without the legal consequence of a removal on the person’s record.
People from the Northern Triangle are fleeing horrific, systemic violence and are seeking a safe haven in the U.S. Asylum-seekers are escaping violence, high homicide rates, gangs, and the inability of their home states – including Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – to protect them
Removals and Detention are at an all time high – These practices have contributed to a significant increase in the number of people removed from the United States during the past decade: in 2006, DHS removed a total of 280,974 people compared to 414,481 people removed in 2014 (the last year for which data is available).
2006, when “catch and release” was formally ended by the Bush Administration, DHS detained on average, 21,450 people on a daily basis. The daily number of detainees grew steadily, and this year, the average number of people detained for immigration purposes has averaged over 40,000 – a huge increase since the end of “catch and release.”
U.S. Obligation to Protect Asylum Seekers – Fleeing to our Borders We cannot betray American’s proud tradition of welcoming those who are fleeing persecution by curtailing fundamental due processes. Asylum seekers can be processed in an orderly and efficient manner while also protecting due process and ensuring no one is returned to life-threatening danger. Detaining people fleeing violence is inhumane – it can further traumatize men, women, and children who have already survived persecution in their home countries.
President Trump has pledged to end sanctuary cities.
This announcement throws us backward in time to costly enforcement-only strategies that incite fear and undermine public safety. If the President’s plan is to divide the nation, this announcement will allow him to accomplish his agenda in unprecedented ways.
Legality of Sanctuary Cities Local jurisdictions have no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, which is the responsibility of the federal government.
Many jurisdictions have limited their policies on detaining individuals after a scheduled release date in order to not violate immigration and Constitutional law.
If President Trump’s plan results in forcing localities to violate immigration and constitutional law by threatening a loss of funding, the localities that comply will be subjected to a storm of lawsuits.
President Trump’s Plan Undermines Safety – The plan will undermine community policing efforts that encourage all members of the community, including immigrants, to work with the police to prevent and solve crime.
When immigrants come to view their local police and sheriffs with distrust because they fear deportation, it encourages criminals to prey upon victims and witnesses alike. Victims of domestic and other violence choose to suffer in silence rather than seek assistance; key witnesses of crime refuse to come forward out of fear that they themselves will be treated as a criminal; and a climate of fear grips entire neighborhoods.
President Trump’s plan will interfere and harm progress local law enforcement and mayors have made with their cities. His plan will penalize cities and localities for their pragmatic, rational choices of how to best make and keep their city/locality safe.
The plan will punish localities by withholding much needed funding that is used to keep their communities safe.