President Trump's Executive Action on Immigration

On Wednesday January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, announcing a massive expansion in interior immigration enforcement. On February 20, 2017, DHS Secretary John Kelly issued a memorandum outlining an implementation plan for that Executive Order titled “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve National Interest"

The Memorandum rescinded, to the extent they conflict, all prior executive orders and memos. However, the Memorandum also states that the DACA Memo is NOT rescinded. The memo makes it clear that the administration is now targeting all undocumented immigrants.

The highest priority are the following:

  • Individuals that have been convicted of any criminal offense;
  • Have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved;
  • Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
  • Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a government agency;
  • Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
  • Are subject to a final order of removal, but have not departed;
  • Otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

The Memorandum rescinds the pre-existing guidance on prosecutorial discretion and directs that discretion may not be exercised for classes or categories of noncitizens, except as otherwise provided in the Memorandum (referring to DACA). Instead, it directs DHS personnel to arrest, apprehend, and initiate enforcement actions against “any alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe” has violated the immigration laws. This language makes clear that everyone is a priority and amounts to a widespread deportation plan.

DHS is also directed to initiate removal proceedings against “any alien subject to removal under any provision of the INA” and refer appropriate cases for criminal prosecution. Prosecutorial discretion, when used, is to be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the head of the field office component that initiated the enforcement action, regardless of which entity actually files the charging document. DHS General Counsel will issue additional guidance on prosecutorial discretion for attorneys involved in immigration proceedings.

Please contact The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C. if you would like to find out more about the memo and how to protect yourself or your family members.


[1] Immigration enforcement priorities encompass many categories in Jeh John's Memorandom, "Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants" (Nov. 20, 2014).