President Trump signed two orders on immigration and border security on Jan. 25. They amount to major immigration reforms.
Although Trump’s pledge to press on with a wall between Mexico and the United States made headlines, his orders contained some other important immigration moves on areas such as sanctuary cities and immigrants who commit crimes.
Here are some of the main elements of the reforms.
Building a Wall
Trump has instructed the homeland security secretary to take steps to design, plan and construct a “physical wall along the southern border.” The move is intended to assert greater U.S. control over the border.
Although Trump can issue executive orders, the funding for the project needs to be approved by Congress. The 1,300 mile long wall could cost $15 to $25 billion, reports CNN. Trump wants to pay for the wall up front and recoup the cost from Mexico. The Mexican government says it will not pay for the barrier.
Expanding Detention Centers
The orders envisage more undocumented immigrants being held in detention centers. Congress had funding for about 34,000 beds for the detention of immigrants at the start of the year.
The order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to build or establish detention facilities close to the border and staff them with asylum officers and immigration judges. Immigrants caught illegally crossing the border or in deportation proceedings would be housed in the centers.
In Texas, immigrant detention centers have faced legal challenges over the housing of women and children within their walls.
Defunding Sanctuary Cities
As part of his so-called “interior” security measures, Trump wants to stamp out sanctuary cities – jurisdictions that shield undocumented immigrants from federal law enforcement.
The order would remove federal grant money from the sanctuary states like San Francisco and Austin that harbor illegal immigrants.
The order declares that sanctuary cities would not be “not eligible” for federal grants. It directs the Office of Management and Budget to highlight federal grant money currently going to sanctuary jurisdictions.
An article on CNN said moves to strip sanctuary cities of money will almost inevitably face a legal challenge.
Increasing the Deportation Force
The orders support a larger deportation force to remove more undocumented immigrants.
The border security order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to hire another 5,000 Border Patrol agents. The order that focuses on the security of the interior of the nation seeks the addition of 10,000 immigration officers. It’s a pledge that’s subject to Congressional approval.
These are uncertain and difficult times to be an immigrant and these immigration reforms make it harder. However, we are not sure exactly how the immigration reforms will pan out and the timeframe in question. The family immigration lawyers at Peek & Toland, PLLC can help you out. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.