Posted at 10:34 am

Border security and immigration law enforcement are the subject of two new Executive Orders from President Donald Trump released on January 25, 2017.

Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” directs the Department of Homeland Security to start the process of constructing the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico immediately. The Order directs:

  • The end of the “catch and release” policy.
  • The creation of more detention space at the border to facilitate the return of detainees to their home countries.
  • The hiring of 5,000 more Border Patrol agents.
  • The promotion of agreements with state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.
  • The designation of criminal prosecutions with a nexus to the southern border as a high priority.

Initial funding for the wall may come from the existing Secure Fence Act, but Congress must make further appropriations to start construction. President Trump has said Mexico will reimburse the United States for the construction at a later date, which Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has disputed. The Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements order also directs the DHS to detail how much U.S. foreign aid has gone to Mexico over the past five years.

The “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” focuses on enforcement. It:

  • Directs withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities.”
  • Adds 10,000 immigration officers to perform law enforcement functions.
  • Makes public on a quarterly basis a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.
  • Makes the acceptance of foreign nationals who are subject to removal from the United States a condition precedent to diplomatic negotiations.
  • Establishes an Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens to provide support for family members.
  • Reinstates the Secure Communities Program that focuses on deportation of those who pose threats to public safety. This replaces the Obama Administration’s Priority Enforcement Program that focused on deporting certain criminal offenders, criminal gang members, and those who pose a danger to national security.

More orders are expected, including to reduce the refugee program that had been expanded by the Obama Administration and to restrict visas for certain countries (i.e., Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya).