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The Teeth in Trump’s New Immigration Rules

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It sounds bureaucratic, but the shift in “enforcement priorities” could change life drastically for undocumented immigrants.

Trump’s two executive orders, signed Wednesday, made headlines for other reasons—a wall along the southern border and the plan to cut off federal funds from sanctuary cities. But for the 11 million people living undocumented in the U.S., the sharp end of the stick is buried in a bureaucratic-sounding section titled “Enforcement Priorities.” The priorities give immigration agents a broad new rein to enforce immigration law, dictating who gets swept up into the system and how the department uses its limited resources.

[Read the more here, at politico.com]

The new enforcement priorities don’t just mark a sharp change from the more forgiving regime created under Barack Obama, starting in 2010; they represent a break from Trump’s previous commitment to only target undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions. Under the new orders undocumented immigrants are considered a priority if they have been convicted of any crime; have been charged with a crime, even if it has not been resolved; “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense”; have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation before a government agency; “have abused” public benefits; have received a final order to leave the country but haven’t done so; or are judged by an immigration officer “pose a risk to public safety and national security.”

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These could net hundreds of thousands of people without any convictions, experts said—specifically due to the prioritization of people who have received a final order to leave the country but have not done so.

“That’s going to sweep up a lot of families, a lot of folks who have children, a lot of folks who have been here a long time,” said John Sandweg, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under Obama.

[Read the full story here, at politico.com]

Immigration hardliners welcomed the new orders as an overdue correction to the Obama-era enforcement priorities, which they said had narrowed to the point where too many undocumented immigrants could stay too easily. The new priorities, they say, simply enforce the existing law, a prerequisite to any type of broader immigration reform.

“You always have two parallel elements of enforcement,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “One is the high priority, bad hombres as the president said. And the other is more routine enforcement to make sure that ordinary folks who aren’t raping or murdering anybody are still deterred from lawbreaking.” The new priorities, he added, are “an abandonment of Obama’s radical downgrading of immigration law.”

It’s impossible to come up with an exact total for how many people will be considered priorities under these new criteria; there are no statistics on people who have committed a chargeable offense, for example. But it’s likely to represent a significant share of the undocumented population. For instance…(read more)

Source: politico.com

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