How Do DHS’s New Rules Affect You?

On February 21, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released two newmemoranda, which outline how DHS plans to implement President Trump’s recent executiveorders concerning the immigrant community. You are probably wondering how these newmemoranda may impact you or your family; Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza is here to help. The memoranda demonstrate that DHS intends to aggressively enforce removalprovisions against all who may have violated any immigration law. The first memorandum“Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest,” focuses on strictenforcement. Of particular note is that DHS is broadly expanding its enforcement priorities.DHS states that only those covered by the memoranda from DHS regarding the programcommonly known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, are exempted fromenforcement. In conjunction with this, DHS is expanding enforcement priorities to include thosewho have “committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” This is very broad. Itincludes those who have been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime or those whom thegovernment believes may have committed a crime even if they have not been charged. Furthermore, many entries into the United States that do not comply with the law(including reentry after removal without government permission) are violations of criminal law.Additionally, DHS states that anyone who is a priority is treated as having equal priority forenforcement actions. Thus, DHS now prioritizes anyone who has committed acts whichconstitute a criminal offense in the same category as those who have actually been convicted of acrime. The stated plan for enforcing these new priorities includes the hiring of thousands of newDHS officers, using local law enforcement as immigration officers, as well as requiring local lawenforcement to provide information to DHS about local communities to aid in carrying out theirenforcement priorities. Do non-citizens still have rights in this increased enforcementatmosphere? Yes, they do and it is important for them to know and exercise those rights as wellas to file for all immigration benefits for which they may be eligible. The second memorandum “Implementing the President’s Border Security andImmigration Enforcement Improvement Policies,” describes new DHS policies and proceduresto increase penalization of entry without inspection or with false documentation. A major portionof this memorandum emphasizes the importance of detaining persons as “the most efficientmeans by which to enforce the immigration laws,” and, as such, restricts the ability for detainedpersons to secure their release from detention. This memorandum also repeats the goal of hiringthousands of additional officers and agents, together with the use of local law enforcement to“perform the functions of an immigration officer,” including the apprehension and detention ofpersons. It is unclear how the local law enforcement agencies will respond to this command, butit appears safe to conclude that DHS’ overall strength in terms of numbers of officersinvestigating and detaining persons will increase dramatically.

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