On February 21st, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued two documents that offer a worrisome glimpse at immigration policy under the Trump administration. For undocumented immigrants, advocates, and firms offering immigration services in San Diego, CA, the issuance of these two memos means they must work together harder than ever to ensure their rights are protected.
In essence, the two Homeland Security memos try to accommodate the unpopular executive orders signed by President Trump in January. During his controversial political campaign, Trump promised he would aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants based on their unlawful actions. Trump has spoken about a deportation force that would be given wide powers to remove up to 11 million immigrants who lack legal status in the U.S.He believes any immigrant who has broken the law should be deported, including those who may have crossed the border undetected or overstayed their visa.
What the Memos State
The memos indicate that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency does not have enough personnel to carry out the mission as Trump may have envisioned. To this effect, Homeland Security will have to find ways to recruit more ICE agents and enlist the help of local law enforcement officers. There will be a need for additional judges and detention facilities.
With regard to the deferred action policy that former President Barack Obama issued through the White House, the memo suggests that protection for young immigrants who became undocumented through the illegal actions of their parents could be rescinded in the future. One of the memos explains that Homeland Security does not plan to exempt any groups. This means undocumented immigrants whose relatives serve in the U.S. military may also be deported. Asylum seekers will also have a hard time pleading their cases and may risk detention.
Yet another item of concern is the revival of 287(g) programs, which essentially authorize local police stations to act as ICE agents. The Obama administration believed these programs were highly ineffective because they mostly resulted in racial profiling and unlawful arrests.
What the Future Holds for U.S. Immigration
Now more than ever, immigration law firms will serve as the first line of protection for foreigners who are concerned about their status in the U.S. Those who are conditional residents and were caught up in a DUI checkpoint could be targeted by ICE agents. Relatives abroad who wish to be sponsored may have a hard time getting an entry visa.
The new situation spelled out by the memos will likely create fear and uncertainty. Nonetheless, the U.S. is a nation of laws. The memos and the Trump administration will be strongly challenged in the courts and by Congress. Immigrants have every reason to be concerned, but they should not lose hope. Instead, they should retain legal counsel and stay in touch with their San Diego immigration attorneys to learn about the latest developments. If you have additional questions regarding potential changes in immigration law, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with KS Visa Law at 858-874-0711.