Immigration EOs Signal Administration’s Enforcement Priorities

President Trump signed three immigration-related Executive Orders (EO) on January 25 and January 27, 2017.

Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, by far the most controversial Executive Order, has caused significant concern and confusion to many foreign nationals in and out of the U.S. over the weekend. Some of the key provisions are:

  • A 90-day ban on all entries of individuals who are citizens—including dual citizens—of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The ban should not apply to individuals who traveled to, but are not citizens of, these countries. Individuals who are citizens of the named countries—including those who have become lawful permanent residents—should avoid traveling out of the U.S.
  • A 120-day suspension on refugee admissions and a decrease of the total number of refugee admissions from the proposed 110,000 to 50,000;
  • Halting visa issuance to countries of “particular concern”;
  • Suspending the use of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP), requiring all foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. where a visa stamp is required to appear in person for an interview. The VIWP allowed some people to use a “drop-box” to renew their visas.

Please note that the travel ban situation is currently in flux. We will provide additional updates as they become available.

The other two EOs, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States and Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, focus on increased enforcement and border issues as outlined below.

Increased Enforcement

  • The EOs call for adding 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, which may lead to an increase in work-site raids and I-9 audits. It is recommended that employers consider performing internal I-9 reviews, whether in-house or with professional assistance, to ensure that I-9s are compliant.
  • The EOs also set priorities for removal/deportation for individuals who:

Entered the U.S. without valid immigration documents;

Were convicted of any criminal offense;

Have final orders of removal/deportation;

Were charged with a criminal offense; or

Committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense.

  • The EOs ramp up section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, allowing local police to select state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Finally, the EOs will withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that willfully refuse to comply with ICE investigations.

Border Issues

The EOs call for:

  • Complete operational control of the southern border, including all unlawful entries, narcotics and contraband;
  • Initiating the construction of a wall on the U.S./Mexico border within 180 days, using all available resources, including state resources;
  • Additional detention centers in the border region;
  • The return of asylum seekers to the territory from which they came during pending asylum proceedings, which could mean return to a third country if they did not enter directly from their home country;
  • Employing 5,000 additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents;
  • Expanding Department of Homeland Security outreach to state and local law enforcement under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; and
  • Expansion of expedited removal.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), an Executive Order signed by President Obama in 2012, allows some individuals, usually young adults, to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). DACA does not grant legal status, but permits the recipients to remain and work in the U.S. for now. It is unclear at this point what President Trump plans to do with DACA.

Contact MSEC’s Immigration Services at immigration@msec.org or 303-223-5660 with questions or concerns you or your foreign-worker employees may have. MSEC also provides professional I-9 audit services to our members, and you can contact our Outsourced Consulting Services at hrmanager@msec.org or 800-884-1328.