Trump Administration Announces its Immigration Priorities

October 9, 2017, the White House has released a detailed outline of President Trump's immigration principles and policies, including information on border security, interior enforcement, and the creation of a merit-based immigration system.

His Administration has identified the following priorities:

Build a Border Wall

The Administration proposes completing construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States.

Remove Unaccompanied Children

The Administration proposes amending current law to ensure the expeditious return of UACs and family units. This includes amending current law that prevents Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) that arrive in the country illegally from being removed.

Reform Existing Asylum Laws

The Administration proposes significantly tightening the credible fear standard and eliminating "loopholes" in our asylum system. This includes the imposition and enforcement of penalties for the filing of frivolous, baseless, or fraudulent asylum applications, and expanding the use of expedited removal. The Administration also seeks to require the review of the asylee or refugee status of an alien who returns to their home country absent a material change in circumstances or country conditions.

Increase the Number of Inadmissible Aliens

The Administration proposes expanding the criteria that render aliens inadmissible to ensure that such aliens are maintained in continuous custody until removal. This includes the expansion of the grounds of inadmissibility to include gang membership, those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, and former spouses and children of individuals engaged in human smuggling and drug trafficking.

Increase Detention Authority

The Administration proposes terminating existing catch-and-release laws that make it difficult to remove illegal immigrants. This includes the required detention of an alien: (1) who was not inspected and admitted into the United States, who holds a revoked nonimmigrant visa (or other nonimmigrant admission document), or who is deportable for failing to maintain nonimmigrant status; and (2) who has been charged in the United States with a crime that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

Discourage Illegal Re-entry and Facilitate Removal

The Administration seeks to expand the type of aliens who are therefore removable on an expedited basis. This includes expanding the grounds of removability and the categories of aliens subject to expedited removal. This also includes increasing penalties for repeat illegal border crossers and those with prior deportations. The Administration proposes authorizing DHS to provide foreign assistance to partner-nations to support migration management efforts conducted by those nations.

Ensure Swift Border Returns

The Administration proposes to hire an additional 370 immigration judges and an additional 1,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys. The Administration proposes hiring an additional 10,000 ICE officers and an additional 300 Federal prosecutors.

Provide Immigration Authority to States and Localities

The Administration proposes enhancing State and local cooperation with Federal immigration law enforcement in order to ensure national security and public safety. This includes authorizing State and local governments to pass legislation that will support Federal law enforcement efforts and the authority those governments to investigate, arrest, detain, or transfer to Federal custody aliens for purposes of enforcing Federal immigration laws when done in cooperation with DHS.

Prohibit Sanctuary Cities

The Administration proposes blocking sanctuary cities from receiving certain grants or cooperative agreements administered or awarded by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. This would affect any state or local jurisdiction that fails to cooperate with any United States government entity regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws or provides more favorable plea agreements to alien criminal defendants for the purpose of immigration consequences of convictions. The Administration also seeks to amend the definition of a criminal conviction for immigration purposes, to prevent jurisdictions from vacating or modifying criminal convictions to protect illegal immigrants.

Create a Merit-Based Immigration System

The Administration proposes establishing a merit-based immigration system. This will limit family-based green cards to spouses and minor children. This will replace this system with a merit-based system that prioritizes skills and economic contributions over family connections. This also includes establishing a points-based system for the awarding of Green Cards, the elimination of the "Diversity Visa Lottery," and new limits on the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.

Legal Workforce

The Administration proposes the requirement that all employers use E-Verify the electronic status-verification system, the expansion of the definition of unlawful employment discrimination to include the preferential hiring of foreign workers over U.S. citizen workers, and the preemption of any State or local law relating to the employment of unauthorized aliens.

Visa Security Improvements

The Administration proposes enhancing State Department visa and traveler security resources and authorities. This includes expanding the Department of State's authority to use fraud prevention and detection fees and increasing the border crossing card fee.

Punish Visa Overstays

The Administration proposes strengthening the removal processes for those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas and implementing measures to prevent future visa overstays which may account for a growing percentage of illegal immigration. This includes classifying such conduct as a misdemeanor and removing the waiver for all visa overstays.