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Trump’s January 25th executive order on “interior enforcement.”

Today Trump issued two executive orders aimed at tightening immigration enforcement in the United States. He has not yet issued the much-anticipated order on refugees and cutting off visas from “terror-prone” countries. That order is expected tomorrow – we will analyze it here once it is available.

Here is our initial review of the Executive Order on Interior Enforcement. We will update the post as we continue to assess the Order and its implications.

Executive order on “interior enforcement.”

Trump’s first order gave instructions to federal agencies policing the United States border. Download the order here: Executive order on interior enforcement Executive order on border security.

Punishing “sanctuary cities;” support state/local enforcement.

The Order takes aim at municipalities across the United States that refuse to use local police resources to enforce Federal immigration law. Federal agencies are supposed to do all that they can to strip resources from those cities. The Federal government is ordered to:

Ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law

It is unlikely that this will have much immediate impact around the country. Federal funding to local government is a complex legal issue. Such funding cannot be simply taken away for any reason whatsoever. In other words, Trump cannot necessarily stop the Federal government from providing transportation dollars to a city just because he does not like their pro-immigrant policies.

Moreover, many cities – such as Seattle – have said that they will keep their pro-immigrant policies even if Trump tries to take funding away.

The Order also instructs federal agencies to help State and local law enforcement enforce immigration law:

It is the policy of the executive branch to empower State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.

 Targeting criminals for deportation, imposing criminal punishment.

Next, the Executive Order on interior enforcement directs agencies to target criminals for deportation. Topping the list are those with serious criminal issues and repeat immigration violations.

This is basically old news.

For years the Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had an official policy of prioritizing deportation of basically the same individuals listed in the Executive Order. In other words, the Order just re-states existing policy for the most part.

Already the immigration courts are badly backlogged just trying to deal with the criminal deportation cases already in the system.

The Order also instructs the,

Attorney General and the Secretary [to] work together to develop and implement a program that ensures that adequate resources are devoted to the prosecution of criminal immigration offenses in the United States…

Already certain repeat immigration violators can be criminally punished. In practice, this is not common. But the Executive Order appears to suggest that such prosecutions could become more frequent.

Hiring 10,000 immigration enforcement officers.

The Executive Order directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire 10,000 new immigration enforcement officers. ICE is the agency charged with policing immigration compliance within the U.S. By contrast, Customs and Border Protection monitors the country’s borders.

Collect fines and penalties.

The Executive Order directs federal agencies to pass rules on collecting “civil fines and penalties” under existing law. U.S. immigration law provides for certain financial penalties for immigration violations. This part of the order requires passage of new rules to show when and how those fines are collected.

Passing rules of this nature is a long process governed by the Administrative Procedures Act. It is likely to be a year or more before rules could be passed.

No visas for “recalcitrant countries.”

In the future, the State Department is not supposed to accept international agreements with other countries unless they agree to accept their citizens when deported from the U.S. Certain countries do not currently agreed to accept their citizens when ordered removed from the U.S.

Countries currently on the “recalcitrant” list are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Burundi, Cape Verde, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

It is likely that nationals of countries deemed “recalcitrant” will not be issued visas to the U.S.



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All Sound Immigration attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Associations. They practice immigration law exclusively, focusing on helping families start new lives in the United States.

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