Within his first 100 days in office, President Trump has signed more executive orders than his three most recent predecessors. For immigrants, the executive order that should cause the highest level of concern was signed on January 25, 2017 and titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”
Under the previous administration, immigration enforcement was guided by the “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), which focused limited resources toward the apprehension and deportation of individuals with convictions involving violence or drugs, individuals who were a security threat, and individuals who had recently entered the United States. The PEP allowed some discretion towards individuals who had lived in the United States for a long period of time, had extensive family ties, and who did not pose a threat to the community.
The PEP has since been rescinded. Trump has delineated a new set of enforcement standards. If one still has doubts about the administration’s plans to make life more difficult for immigrants, all one would need to do is take a look at the whiteboard behind Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon. An expansive reading of the executive order suggests that all persons who have no legal status inside the United States are subject to deportation. The executive order targets any individual who might “otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security” (even if not specifically mentioned in the executive order) to be detained by immigration officers.