New White House Immigration Principles and Policies

On October 8, 2017, the White House released a new outline of the President's immigration principles and policies. This outline includes details on border security, interior enforcement, and the creation of a new merit-based immigration system.

White House Proposals for Border Security

Border Wall

According to President Trump, the southern border is a "clear threat to our national security and public safety." It is "exploited by drug traffickers and criminal cartels." The White House proposes the construction of a wall. The Administration will also authorize the Department of Homeland Security to collect money and use processing fees for the wall. This also includes improving infrastructure on the northern border.

Unaccompanied Alien Children

President Trump states that there is a loophole in current policy that prevents "Unaccompanied Alien Children," (UACs) in the country illegally, from being removed. These children are housed by the Department of Health and Human Services. UACs are released to the custody of a family member. That family member often lacks legal status also. President Trump asserts that this loophole is attractive for those seeking to immigrate illegally.

The Administration wants to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, in order to treat all UACs the same, regardless of country of origin, as long as the child is not a victim of trafficking. President Trump also wants to ensure that children who are not UACs, but are actually accompanied by a parent or guardian, are not eligible to receive the same protections granted to UACs. The outline also includes terminating the Flores Settlement Agreement by passing additional legislation to dictate care standards for UACs.

Asylum Reform

President Trump asserts that the "massive asylum backlog has allowed illegal immigrants to enter and stay in the United States by exploiting asylum loopholes." In order to correct the backlog, the White House wants to significantly restrict standards and eliminate loopholes. This first involves raising the standard for proof in credible fear interviews. There will be penalties for filing fraudulent applications. The use of expedited removal may be expanded. President Trump wants to clarify and enhance the legal definition of "aggravated felony" to make sure that those individuals do not receive any immigration benefits. The Administration's goal is also to expand and improve upon the ability to return those seeking asylum to safe third countries.

Ensure Swift Border Returns

President Trump mentions that the tremendous case backlog makes the government unable to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner. The Administration will also provide more resources to reduce the backlog in immigration court to ensure the quick return of illegal border crossers. This effort will include seeking the funds to hire 370 additional immigration judges. They also aim to hire 1,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys. This will also include setting performance standards for immigration judges, and maintaining sufficient resources for detention facilities and processes.

Inadmissible Aliens

According to President Trump, the current grounds for inadmissibility are too narrow and allow for the admission of individuals who threaten the nation's public safety. The White House proposes that this criteria be expanded. The grounds of inadmissibility would be expanded to include gang membership, those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, identity theft, Social Security fraud, domestic violence, child abuse, drunk driving, failure to register as a sex offender, and certain firearm offenses. The expanded grounds would also include former spouses and children of individuals engaged in drug or human trafficking, if the divorce is found to be a sham and that the "former" family members still receive benefits from the offender.

President Trump also wants to expand the "grounds of removability." This ensures only aliens with "meritorious valid claims of persecution can circumvent expedited removal." The White House would like to increase penalties for "repeat illegal border crossers." The Administration proposes authorizing DHS to provide foreign aid to partner nations for "migration management." This would help Central and South American countries to stop northbound migration and prevent human smuggling.

Interior Enforcement

Sanctuary Cities

According to President Trump, sanctuary cities are problematic. They release criminals and refuse to turn them over to Federal authorities. He proposes blocking these cities from receiving certain grants, by restricting these grants from jurisdictions that fail to cooperate with any government entity regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws, entities that provide services or benefits to aliens not entitled to receive any benefits, and any jurisdiction that provides more favorable plea agreements or sentencing for alien criminal defendants for reasons of immigration consequences of convictions. All jurisdictions must provide all information requested by ICE regarding aliens in their custody.

Immigration Authority for States and Localities

The Administration aims to enhance State and local cooperation with Federal immigration law enforcement to ensure public safety. State and local governments would be allowed to pass legislation that supports Federal law enforcement efforts. Further, President Trump proposes that State and local governments should be incentivized to enter into agreements with the Federal government regarding immigration enforcement efforts.

Visa Overstays

According to the White House, 40% of illegal immigration comes from visa overstays. Therefore, the Administration wants to strengthen the removal processes for those who overstay. The Administration proposes that overstaying a visa be classified as a misdemeanor. Individuals who overstay a visa should be barred from all immigration benefits for a certain period of time. President Trump proposes the enhanced vetting of bond sponsors for aliens who enter without inspection. This ensures that the sponsor goes through a background check. The outline includes permitting the Department of State to release certain visa records to foreign governments when sharing that information is in the national interest.

Necessary Resources

The outline includes seeking funding to hire 10,000 more ICE officers and 300 additional Federal prosecutors.

Detention Authority

President Trump asserts the need to get rid of outdated catch-and-release laws that make it difficult to remove illegal immigrants. This effort would also include providing legislation to fix the Zadvydas loophole, and allowing ICE to retain custody of illegal aliens whose home countries will not take them back. This also involves requiring the detention of an alien who was not inspected and admitted into the U.S., who holds a revoked visa, who is deportable for failing to maintain their status, or who has been charged in the U.S. with a crime that resulted in the "death or serious bodily injury of another person."

Legal Workforce

President Trump proposes requiring the use of E-Verify. Efforts for a legal workforce also include imposing strong penalties for failure to comply with E-Verify. The proposal requires the Social Security Administration to disclose information to DHS. The proposal also includes strengthening laws prohibiting document fraud.

Deportable Aliens

The current qualifications for deportation are not enough. The outline proposes expanding these qualifications to include: those convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses or a single offense resulting in a death or serious injury, and those who fail to register as a sex offender. Additionally, gang membership will be included.

Gang Members

President Trump asserts that the State Department does not have sufficient resources to adequately vet all visa applicants. Efforts to correct this will include expanding authority to use fraud prevention and detection fees and ensuring funding for the Visa Security Program. The government would increase the border crossing card fee and apply the Passport Security Surcharge to the costs of protecting U.S. citizens and their interests overseas. This also involves strengthening laws that prohibit civil and criminal immigration fraud. Additionally, this encourages the use of "advanced analytics to proactively detect fraud."

Merit-Based Immigration System

President Trump believes that the current system prioritizes family-based immigration over skills-based immigration. This is not beneficial for the national interest. President Trump believes that a merit-based system protects U.S. workers and taxpayers, ends chain migration, and "promotes financial success and assimilation for newcomers." Efforts to accomplish this include ending extended-family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children. The Administration wants to create a new, points-based system for green cards based on merit-based factors. The White House also supports the elimination of the "Diversity Visa Lottery."

For more information

Read the entire Presidential Memorandum here.

Finally, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

This information comes from a news release from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 17100965).

Categories: Immigration News