The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
“President Trump’s immigration executive orders of this week create a blueprint for the mass deportation, build up his Deportation Force, stop Syrian and other refugees from coming to America and ban tens of millions of Muslims from coming to America. All this, despite rhetorical flourishes and assurances he was simply building a wall, focusing on criminals and putting “extreme vetting” into place. To many in the political class, Trump is just being a tougher version of Obama. To policy experts, Trump just laid out a plan to put just about all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation and to ban millions of Muslims.
Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller must be doing high-fives.
It’s now seems pretty clear to us that Trump’s team has had a strategy dating back to last summer. Beginning when Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway came on board, Trump made a number of moves on immigration policy. Here is our take on the strategy, from then until now:
Have Trump talk about border security (the wall), prioritizing criminals and extreme vetting to get away from talk of mass deportation and the Muslim ban and to get the political class to buy the idea that Trump was “softening” his positions
Give a speech in Phoenix in late August that was carefully written to both con the political class about “the softening” while doubling down with his nativist base on actual policy
Keep the fiction alive that Trump was just a tougher version of Obama until in the White House and then lower the boom with a series of executive orders that initiate the most hard-edged policies but still packaged in normalizing rhetoric
Continue to fool the political class by waving the shiny object of a stupid border wall (will Mexico pay or not, ask the pundits?), pretend that the prioritization in the executive orders still mean criminals first (when in fact the orders eviscerate any and all priorities), build up his Deportation Force by tripling the number of ICE agents, and then, under the guise of “extreme vetting,” end the Syrian refugee program, suspend and then shrink the refugee program (while shifting its focus to Christians), and ban many Muslim visitors without ever once using the word “Muslim.”
Hardliners get what they want – open season on immigrants through a blueprint for mass deportation and a ban on most Muslims – and the political class doesn’t get it.
As we said, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Bannon, Ms. Conway and Mr. Miller must be doing high-fives. Some get it: see some excerpts below. We hope as Trump and team continue their assault on a defining aspect of American history and identity, others will, too.”
Some observers captured the mass deportation implications of the immigration executive order, including:
“This is basically saying, ‘Go out and find who you can find,’” said David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who said agents will focus on “low-hanging fruit” to make quotas rather than go after the serious criminals who pose the biggest danger to public safety. “The people who need to be removed and the people who may pose a national security threat — there’s less resources to go after them. This is a disaster because it creates a much more dangerous situation. It’s enforcement chaos.”
“That’s going to sweep up a lot of families, a lot of folks who have children, a lot of folks who have been here a long time.”
“Instead of focusing on deporting convicted criminals, the executive order tells ICE agents to focus on immigrants who’ve been convicted, charged, or “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” Those “offenses” include immigration crimes (illegal entry and reentry are both criminal offenses) and things that are part and parcel of living in the US as an unauthorized immigrant, like driving without a license. (Indeed, the order prioritizes people who have engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter,” which could apply to anyone who applies for a job and pays taxes under a fake Social Security number.) Furthermore, the executive order tells immigration agents to prioritize anyone they feel is a “risk to public safety or national security” even if they haven’t done any of those things — which is to say, anyone immigration agents want to deport. And ICE will have more resources to carry this out. The executive order triples the number of agents in ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations office. Those agents will be able to resume use of the tool that made it easiest for them to pick up immigrants involved in the criminal justice system. Trump is resurrecting the Obama-era Secure Communities program, which automatically checked immigration databases to identify people checked into local jails, then allowed ICE agents to ask local officials to hand over any immigrant they wanted to deport.”
“These immigrants and their families no longer can count on that protection. Trump’s executive order targets criminals as its top priority, but the language is so broad that it could include almost anyone in the country without legal status.”
“Under the new orders undocumented immigrants are considered a priority if they have been convicted of any crime; have been charged with a crime, even if it has not been resolved; “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense”; have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation before a government agency; “have abused” public benefits; have received a final order to leave the country but haven’t done so; or are judged by an immigration officer “pose a risk to public safety and national security.” These could net hundreds of thousands of people without any convictions, experts said—specifically due to the prioritization of people who have received a final order to leave the country but have not done so.”
In leading Spanish language newspaper La Opinion, Pilar Marrero writes(translation by America’s Voice Education Fund) that “although Trump said that his focus will be the removal of those who “want to harm us” and “criminals”, the reach of the executive order is much wider and the deportation priorities proposed could end up sweeping individuals who are not convicted criminals, like the Obama administration did especially in its first four years.” According to the piece, the reach of the executive order could spread terror among the immigrant community.