Immigration Policy Under the Trump Administration

Over the past several months, immigration policy has changed dramatically under the Trump Administration. In this blog post, we explain his three executive orders and what they mean for immigrants.

Please note that the first two orders listed here are focused on Latin American countries and therefore include links to companion pieces written in español.


Enhancing public safety in the interior of the United States

What Does It Say?

You can read the first order in its entirety here but in short, it aims to improve the enforcement of immigration laws related to removable immigrants in the United States. The order also identifies sanctuary jurisdictions as a threat to the safety of America and says that the United States government can “employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States”.

What Does It Mean?

In accordance with this guidance, the order:

  • Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify sanctuary cities.
  • Empowers the Attorney General to take action against those cities by withholding non-mandatory federal funding.
  • Equally prioritizes the removal of seven categories of immigrants, including those who have been convicted of a crime, been charged with a crime but not yet convicted, and have committed acts that constitute a crime or criminal offense. This includes all unauthorized immigrants who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas, regardless of whether they have committed a separate offense within the U.S It also applies to lawful immigrants who have committed crimes which qualify them for removal.
  • Grants more discretionary power to apprehension officers, which has resulted in immigration raids with a stronger focus on non-criminals.

Accordingly, the President has ordered ICE to hire an additional 10,000 enforcement and removal officers, which will triple its size.

Remember, every immigrant is entitled to legal counsel and an immigration hearing. President Trump must therefore address the current 540,000+ case backlog within the immigration system in order to successfully carry out this executive order.



Border security and immigration enforcement improvements.

What Does It Say?

You can read the second order in its entirety here but in short, it is aimed at enhancing security along the southern border calling for a United States/Mexico wall constructed with “appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”

Although Trump has previously said Mexico will pay for the wall or reimburse the United States for it, the second order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify all sources of federal funding which can be allocated for construction and to prepare Congressional budget requests. Trump has proposed many different methods for obtaining the funds from Mexico which include:

  • (As a candidate) Threatening to halt remittances sent by unauthorized immigrants

  • Levying tariffs on Mexican imports

  • Imposing visa fees on Mexican immigrants

  • Cancelling visas to Mexicans altogether

What Does It Mean?

The Department of Homeland Security’s procedures are changed to:

  • Order the detention of all unauthorized immigrants apprehended at the border, including those people seeking asylum

  • Remove or criminally prosecute family members caught helping unaccompanied minors illegally entering the US.

Almost half of all unauthorized immigrants came to the United States on legal visas (and building a wall will do little to prevent visa overstays).



Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States

What Does It Say?

The third, most controversial executive order can be read here in full. The first version of this order blocked the entry of both immigrants (green card holders) and nonimmigrants (temporary visa holders) from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan into the United States.

After much uproar and immediate legal backlash, the President issued a new travel suspension with several differences from the original order:

  • It explicitly excludes green card and other visa holders from the 90-day travel ban. Only individuals applying for new U.S. visas will be affected.

  • Iraq is no longer included in the temporary travel ban. This comes after concern from the Pentagon and State Department that an Iraqi travel ban would negatively affect joint efforts to fight terrorism.

  • Instead of indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States, Syrians are now included in the general 120-day refugee suspension. Furthermore, it drops the language prioritizing religious minorities in the refugee program. However, the cap on refugee entry is still lowered to 50,000 per year.

What Does It Mean?

The first version of this order was widely perceived to be a Muslim ban, as Trump vowed to impose “a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign. However, the president contended that the order (version one) did not discriminate on the basis of religion.

The second version of the order is still considered controversial; several states have already joined a lawsuit against it. It remains to be seen whether this second version will hold up in court or be struck down like the first version.

Anyone who has been paying any attention at all understands that immigration policy has faced many important changes over the past few months. It is easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by it all.

We invite you to come into one of our eight office locations for a free consultation with a legal professional who will answer your questions and concerns confidentially.

The sooner you act, the better position you will be in so click here to get started. We look forward to speaking with you soon.