Under Trump, the Definition of ‘Criminal’ Has Been Expanded

Jan 27, 2017 | Crimes

This week, President Trump signed two  executive orders on immigration. As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have been following his actions on immigration with interest. Below are some frequently asked questions.

What were the executive orders on immigration that Trump signed, and what were they about?
The media focused much of the attention on his plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico, and to hold back money from “sanctuary cities.” If you have any questions about this, you should consult with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What may have the most immediate impact on immigration communities throughout the United States?
The most immediate impact may come from language about deportation priorities that is tucked into the border wall order. It offers a very expansive definition of who is considered a criminal — a category of people Mr. Trump has said he would target for deportation. Immigration agents will now have wider latitude to enforce federal laws and are being encouraged to deport broad swaths of unauthorized immigrants. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

Under the recent executive orders that Trump signed, who is considered a priority for deportation?
Mr. Trump’s order focuses on anyone who has been charged with a criminal offense, even if it has not led to a conviction. He also includes, according to language in the order, anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” meaning anyone the authorities believe has broken any type of law — regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime.

Mr. Trump’s order also includes anyone who has engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency,” a category that includes anyone who has used a false Social Security number to obtain a job, as many unauthorized immigrants do.

Anyone who has received a final order to leave the country, but has not left, is also considered a priority.

Finally, he allows the targeting of anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer” poses a risk to either public safety or national security. That gives immigration officers the broad authority they have been pressing for, and no longer requires them to receive a review from a supervisor before targeting individuals. If you have any questions in regard to this, I would recommend that you speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

Who is considered a criminal under Trump’s executive order?
The order defines criminal loosely, and includes anyone who has crossed the border illegally — which is a criminal misdemeanor. Anyone who has abused any public benefits program is also considered a criminal under the order. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

Who many undocumented immigrants will affected by this?
Currently, it is impossible to know how many people will be considered priorities for deportation under the new criteria. Mr. Trump’s executive order could impact any unauthorized immigrant who is not protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which the Obama administration put in place to give young people work permits and temporary relief from deportation. (Mr. Trump has not yet made clear whether he intends to keep that program.) If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

Does the president have the authority to carry out these changes?
The president does have the authority to decide who should be deported. But it is unclear whether the administration will be able to — or even try to — carry out deportations as expansively as suggested in the executive order’s language. First, in order to put the 15,000 additional immigration agents he wants in place around the country and along the border, Mr. Trump needs spending approval from Congress. Even then, additional detention centers would also be needed. The most significant hurdle is the tremendous backlog in the immigration courts. Even if immigration officials initiated thousands of deportations immediately, court dates for those immigrants would be at least a year and a half away. Some immigration experts have suggested that Mr. Trump will try to push for expedited removals, which could speed the process, and give immigrants less time to find legal representation. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

How does the Trump administration compare with previous administrations on removals/deportations?
Mr. Trump is opening the door to deporting far more unauthorized immigrants than previous administrations. This may be the largest expansion of any president in terms of who is a priority for removal. Immigration law scholars have warned that if someone is in the United States illegally, they are targets for removal. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

If you would like more information on cancellation of removal orders, deportation, or deportation relief, please contact Miami immigration lawyer The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at tmsilvalaw.com.