A lot of our attention in recent weeks has been focused on the Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017, regarding the ban on persons from certain countries.
For reasons not entirely clear, but probably as a result of these Executive Orders from January 25, it appears that U.S. immigration officials are increasing their activities in search of persons unlawfully in the United States.
It is also quite possible that U.S. immigration officials might be increasing efforts to locate permanent residents who have criminal convictions that might make them subject to deportation.
Before discussing the two Executive Orders signed on January 25, 2017, I want to provide the following suggestions for people to do immediately:
Permanent residents. Carry your green card with you at all times. Keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place at home.
Lawfully present nonimmigrants (students, visitors, employees, and others whose authorization to be in the US has not expired). Carry with you at all times your EAD, I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence. Carry the original with you and keep a photocopy in a safe place at home.
Persons unlawfully present in the United States for more than 2 years. Keep with you at all times evidence that you have been present for at least 2 years. Such evidence might include utility bills with your name going back 2 years, pay stubs with your name going back 2 years, or other documentation going back at least 2 years. Keep a photocopy at home. Have a plan in place with your loved ones for what happens if you don’t come home one day. Do not presume you will be allowed to make a phone call.
Persons unlawfully present in the United States for less than 2 years. Have a plan in place with your loved ones for what happens if you don’t come home one day, e.g. who picks up the kids from daycare, etc. Do not presume you will be allowed to make a phone call.
On January 25, 2017, an Executive Order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” was signed. This Executive Order (EO), among other things, makes it a priority of U.S. immigration officials to seek the removal of non-citizens who are deportable under existing immigration laws, for such things as certain criminal convictions, espionage, terrorism, misrepresentations to U.S. immigration officials.
More importantly, the EO also makes a priority for removal any persons unlawfully in the United States who:
- have been convicted of any criminal offense;
- have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge 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 or application before a governmental agency;
- have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
- are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
- in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
Considering all of these different priorities for enforcement, it appears that, in effect, all persons unlawfully present in the United States could be included as a priority for removal.
Also on January 25, 2017, another EO, titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” was signed. This EO discusses the construction of “the Wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border. But it also does much more. The EO:
- orders the construction of new detention facilities near the U.S.-Mexican border
- directs asylum officers and immigration judges to handle cases at those detention facilities
- directs the hire of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents
- empowers state and local law enforcement officials to “perform the functions of an immigration officer … to the extent permitted by law.”
- directs DHS to take action to apply “expedited removal” to the maximum extent permitted by statute: to any individual who has not been “admitted or paroled” who cannot prove she or he has been continuously present in the United States for 2 years.
As a result of this final point, I suggest that persons present in the United States without permission who have been in the United States for at least 2 years, carry with them documents to prove their presence in the United States for at least 2 years, as described above.
Thank you for your time.