Open Season to hunt immigrants?

Just a few days ago, President Donald J. Trump took office as the new President of the United States of America. It took him only two days to shake the immigration tree.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued two executive orders involving immigration. One dealing with border security and another with immigration enforcement. Among other items, the President announced that he was ordering DHS to construct a southern border wall, increase the size of the enforcement agencies, require that states and localities engage in immigration enforcement to supplement federal efforts and take away federal funding from sanctuary cities.

It is expected other immigration executive orders coming down soon:

  • Freeze the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, cut the current refugee quota by more than 50%, and take steps to initiate a “Muslim Ban”—targeting and banning immigration from upward of seven Muslim-majority countries.
  • Call for a brutal immigration crackdown, including a likely acceleration of mass deportations and an effort to cut funding for sanctuary cities.
  • End the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which has protected over 740,000 undocumented individuals from deportations. People who are already protected under DACA will be unable to renew their protections.

Civil rights organizations and human rights advocates have branded President Trump’s actions as opening a season for hunting down immigrants to incarcerate and deport them. Many are concerned that the federal government will now resuscitate Secured Communities and expanding 287(g) agreements. Both programs designed to detect and detain immigrants by local law enforcement agencies and be transferred to immigration.

One of the most problematic item was the fact that he ordered the elimination of the catch and release policy which would allow people that were crossing the border to be heard by a judge and be released if proven they were not flight risk or danger to the public. We need to keep in mind that the vast majority of asylum-seekers from Central America are women and children who are at risk of violence, sexual assault, and even death if they are returned to their home countries. They deserve a fair hearing and not to be locked up and treated like criminals simply because they crossed a border while running for their lives. 

Despite President Trump’s efforts, there are cities and states pushing back. Anticipating potential changes in federal immigration enforcement practices and priorities, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman last month and before President Trump took office provided local governments and law enforcement agencies with a legal roadmap for improving public safety by protecting vulnerable immigrant communities. Localities can limit their participation in federal immigration enforcement activities in several ways,  including, but not limited to, (1) refusing to enforce non-judicial civil immigration warrants issued by ICE or Customs and Border Protection, (2) protecting New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights by denying federal requests to hold uncharged individuals in custody more than 48 hours, (3) limiting access of ICE and CBP agents to individuals currently in custody, and (4) limiting information gathering and reporting that will be used exclusively for federal immigration enforcement.

Other efforts have been undertaken independently. For instance, Mayor of the City of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, said also last month that Syracuse will stand defiantly against an impending federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants. “Syracuse is now and will remain a sanctuary city for immigrants” she said during her State of the City address.  

We will have to wait and see what lawsuits will be filed and what injunctions or stays against President Trump’s orders will be put in place. Being in one side or the other, we all need to make sure we remain a nation of immigrants because as such we are stronger.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration issues. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with immigrants. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the March edition. WISHING THE BEST TO CNY LATINO IN ITS NEW ANNIVERSARY!!!!!      

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