In recent weeks, the immigration and border enforcement regime that Americans and American immigrants had become accustomed to were thrown into disarray. Longstanding assumptions about ICE agents and other enforcement priorities seemed to fall away and immigrants were left with a sense of anxiety over whether they would become targets for removal or otherwise face immigration enforcement action. Our Orlando deportation lawyers explain:

Those most concerned about these actions include undocumented immigrants. One subset of affected individuals are DACA recipients – often referred to as “Dreamers.” This blog post is intended to set forth what we know about immigration enforcement under the Drumpf administration. However, there is still a degree of uncertainty as courts review the propriety of enforcement actions under these new rules.

Implementation Memo States the Classes of Immigrants will No Longer be Exempt from Removal

On February 20, 2017, DHS released two implementation memos setting forth agency practices under President Drumpf’s recent executive orders. The implementation memos include Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies and Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest.

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One of the most striking and important aspects of the policy change is set forth in the memo titled Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest. The memo states that DHS “no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” Previously the Obama administration had exempted certain classes of individuals from removal. This policy change means that any immigrant who is in the United States illegally or who has committed crimes while in the United States is subject to removal.

While the plan does away with enforcement exemptions, it does retain prioritization and discretion for agents. ICE agents are still required to exercise proper prioritization when an individual is believed to be removable. As set forth in the memo, enforcement efforts should be prioritized according to the following criteria:

  1. Immigrants who have been convicted of any criminal offense.
  2. Immigrants who have been charged with a criminal offense that has not been adjudicated or otherwise resolved.
  3. Immigrants who have committed criminal acts regardless of whether they have been formally charged.
  4. Individuals who engage in immigration fraud or any other types of fraud.
  5. Immigrants who have engaged in abuse or fraud relating to public benefit programs.
  6. Immigrants who have been ordered removed from the country but have not done so.
  7. Individuals who, in the discretion of an immigration officer, pose a risk to the public safety or national security.

ICE also set forth its commitment to implementing the hiring of 10,000 additional agents as set forth in the executive order. These decisions will guide immigration enforcement efforts for the foreseeable future. Immigrants who are affected by these changes are encouraged to contact an immigration attorney for advice as soon as possible.

Memos Also Implement Expanded Expedited Removal Process

One of the most striking and far-reaching changes is the expanded applicability of expedited removal procedures as set forth in Implement the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies.

Under Section 235(b)(l )(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigration officers may order certain inadmissible aliens removed from the United States without additional hearing or review. Previously this type of removal action was applied to only aliens “encountered within 100 air miles of the border and within 14 days of entry” or “aliens who arrived in the United States by sea other than at a port of entry.” This approach was issued by the Bush Administration in a 2002 memo titled  Notice Designating Aliens Subject to Expedited Removal Under Section 235(b)(I )(a)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The approach was continued and in accord with policies set forth in memos subsequently issued in 2004 and January 2017.

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The new expedited removal policies set forth in the memo will apply to any immigrant who:

  • has not been admitted to the United States. (Undocumented immigrants)
  • is inadmissible under section 212(a)(6)(C) or section 212(a)(7) of the INA and cannot show continuous physical presence in the United States for the two years prior to their determination of inadmissibility

This means that immigrants who have purchased a home, found a job, or are otherwise well on their way to being integrated into American society are now potentially subject to expedited removal procedures.

Orlando Immigration Lawyers Provide Guidance in Difficult Times

The executive orders and implementation memos are far-reaching and their practical impacts will be felt for years to come. Other aspects of the memo impact or require:

  • Identifying and quantifying sources of aid to Mexico for future enforcement actions.
  • Commissioning a study to better understand border security.
  • Constructing a wall on the southern border.
  • Limiting the use of parole authority.

If you have questions about how these and other changes in the United States immigration policy affect your status, please contact the Orlando deportation attorneys of Colombo & Hurd today. To schedule a confidential consultation at our Miami or Orlando law offices, please call 305-692-0232 or contact us online.