Enhancing public safety in the interior of the United States

Executive Order 13768

ON January 25, 2017, President Trump issued one of his controversial executive actions on immigration, Executive Order 13768 entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” which effectively places any undocumented individual in the United States at risk of deportation. The executive action directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary to prioritize the removal of aliens who are subject of specific sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) on criminal and related inadmissibility grounds, security and related inadmissibility grounds, fraud, misrepresentation inadmissibility grounds expedited removal of inadmissible arriving aliens, criminal grounds of removal, security and related grounds of removal.

However, in addition to these INA sections, the executive order likewise identifies as enforcement priorities individuals who “(a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;  (b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;  (c)  Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; (d)  Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency; (e)  Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (f)  Are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (g)  In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

The executive order shows a significant, major shift in U.S. immigration policy, in contrast with that of the previous administration.  The enforcement priorities are very broad and encompassing making any undocumented alien an enforcement priority. For instance, visa violators such as overstaying aliens or those working without employment authorization who “in the judgment of an immigration officer” poses risk to “public safety or national security” can be deported.  Anyone who “(c)ommitted acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” can also be deported, even if no charge has been filed, or even if one has been filed but not yet resolved.  Aliens who committed misdemeanors or minor offenses such as driving without a license, vandalism, or jaywalking can be considered an enforcement priority. There is no ranking in the priorities. A person guilty of driving without a license is an equal priority under the executive action just like a person who committed a felony such as murder or robbery.

In connection with this shift in immigration enforcement, the DHS is expected to hire additional 10,000 ICE officers to enforce the executive action.

If you are contemplating of filing any waiver application or any immigration petition for that matter, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an immigration lawyer to guide you on the intricacies of filing for such a petition.

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Atty. Gwendolyn Malaya-Santos is a member of the State Bar of California and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. To schedule for a free initial in-person consultation, please call Tel. Nos. (213) 284-5984 or (626) 329-8215. Atty. Santos’ office is located at 3450 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200-105, Los Angeles, CA 90010. 

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Information contained in this article does not, nor is it intended to, constitutes legal advice for any specific situation and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It likewise does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

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