Articles Posted in Asylum

On Wednesday, January 25, amidst a bevy of executive orders, President Trump signed one particular order promising to withhold federal dollars from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order, which according to the White House Briefing Room, is officially titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, states that “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, by no later than one year after the date of the executive order, ensure that sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

To unpack the provisions of this order, one must first consider the meaning of a “sanctuary city,” as defined by the president’s administration, legal scholars, and immigration officials. Since the term does not necessarily have a set definition, it is important to consider all perspectives. The executive order, for one, leaves it to the secretary of Homeland Security to designate “sanctuary jurisdictions” based on whether they allow local officials to share people’s immigration status with the federal government.

Based on a 1996 law prohibiting localities from withholding such information, the Trump administration believes sanctuary cities to be clear violators of the law. But, long before the issuance of the executive order, there has been much contention surrounding these claims. According to Barry Friedman, a constitutional law scholar who runs the Policing Project at NYU, “The federal government can’t demand that state officials or local officials do their work.”

President-elect Trump’s hardline statements on immigration, which are often peppered with shifting details, have left millions of Americans uncertain about their future status in the U.S. More than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children are protected currently by Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), established by President Obama, and another four to five million were eligible for protection under a similar program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents.  Many of these families’ information could be stored in federal systems, allowing for targeted removal under the Trump administration.

Below are two of the less discussed areas where some of the national debate over immigration policy may take place under the soon-to-be President Trump:

Sanctuary Cities:

Over the weekend, immigration officials stayed true to their word and began their next phase of immigration law enforcement against Central American nationals who have received a final order of removal from an immigration judge in recent years.

While immigration officials claim they are only looking to find and remove families from Central America who have had their chance to present their case in court and received a “final order of removal” dated January 1, 2014 or later, it remains to be seen whether this will be the case. In fact, for individuals with removal orders in absentia, they may have never even stepped foot into the courtroom. Many of these families are fleeing the continuing violence and economic ruin of countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Although few details have been released regarding the execution of enforcement actions, immigration officers executed removal orders over the weekend which resulted in the arrest and detention of 121 Central American mothers and their children. These raids were targeted against families at their known addresses. These raids seem to have served little purpose than to sow fear in our communities and cause further harm to immigrants who are already fleeing unprecedented violence and persecution in their home countries.