Shortly after taking office, President Trump signed a number of executive orders within his first two weeks in the White House. An executive order is a declaration made by the president having the force of law. The president does not have to get the permission of Congress to issue these orders. The Federal courts can, however, limit the president’s orders if the orders are challenged in court for being unconstitutional or for going beyond his executive power.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump made bold promises to the American people concerning immigration. Signing executive orders limiting who may enter the United States and prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens, is his first act in keeping his promises. On January 25, 2017 he signed two orders: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, and Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. On January 27, 2017 he signed Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.
According to President Trump, the Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States order’s purpose is to direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means (already in place) to enforce the immigration laws on the United States. He highlights three main issues: Aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety; Sanctuary jurisdiction across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States; and ten of thousands of removal aliens have been releases into our communities solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation.
The president directs prioritizing the removal of aliens that have been convicted, have been charged with any crimes, or those who committed crimes, aliens who engaged in fraud, those who have orders of removal, aliens who abused any public benefit programs, or in the judgment of an immigration officer poses a risk to public safety or national security. The president orders the hiring of an additional 10 thousand immigration officers, directs state and local law officers to perform functions of immigration officers. Any local jurisdiction who refuses to comply with immigration will no longer be eligible for federal funding except for law enforcement purposes. A weekly list of criminal actions by aliens shall also be made available to the general public. Any prior regulation or policy inconsistent with the order is hereby withdrawn or modified.
Secretaries of the Department of State and Homeland Security are ordered to negotiate and if necessary impose sanctions to foreign countries who refuse to accept their nationals who are subject to removal. The director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is directed to create a programs for victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.
In his Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements order, President Trump, orders the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, all individuals entering the United States be detained and not released, and expedite the removal of illegal aliens in the United States. For the wall to be functional, the president also ordered that the wall be monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism. President Trump terminated the “catch and release” policy of immigration. From now on, aliens entering illegal will be put in a detention facility until their claim for relief from removal is fully adjudicated. He ordered that an additional 5 thousand Border Patrol agents be hiring.
In his most controversial order, Protecting the National from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United State, on January 27, 2017, President Trump temporarily suspended entry of aliens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. He proclaimed that entry of these aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. According to the president, deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The U.S. must therefore be vigilant during the visa issuance process to insure that those admitted will not intent to harm Americans and they have no ties to terrorists. Heads of agencies are instructed to determine what additional information or process would be necessary to conduct a full investigation of foreign nationals seeking entry to the US to determine whether they pose a threat or not. The president also suspended the U.S Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. He also proclaimed that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interested of the United States and thus suspended until further notice. He also limited the total number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. in one year to 50 thousand.
In the same order, President Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security to implement a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States. He also suspended the Visa Interview Waiver Program.
It still is not clear how these orders will be implemented or whether, if challenged, they will be upheld in court. A federal judge in New York has already blocked one the president’s orders, ruling that authorities could not remove individuals from seven Muslim majority countries who arrived in US airports after the order had been issued. The federal judge found that the order violated their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Constitution.