Immediately after swearing in Sessions as attorney general, President Trump signed three new executive orders addressing crime and immigration.  One executive order seeks to increase penalties on those found guilty of assaulting police officers. A second order directs law enforcement agencies to increase intelligence sharing while going after drug cartels. A third order directs Attorney General Sessions to prioritize fighting “illegal immigration” alongside drug trafficking and violent crime.

President Trump also green-lighted construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal he repeatedly mentioned while campaigning.  The wall is just one component of sweeping action Trump took to clamp down on immigration to the U.S.  “Building this barrier is more than just a campaign promise, it is a common-sense first step to securing our border. This will stem the flow of drugs, crime, and illegal immigration into the United States. And yes, one way or another, as the President has said, Mexico will pay for it,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Other actions recently taken by President Trump include:

  • Ending federal grant funding to sanctuary cities and states, which opt out of reporting undocumented immigrants.
  • Ordering the Department of Homeland Security to allocate funds or establish contracts for the construction or operation of detention facilities.
  • Ending the policy known as “catch and release,” under which some immigrants are released from detention while they await a hearing with an immigration judge.
  • Prioritizing the deportation of immigrants who have committed crimes.

 

 

During the White House press briefing on Wednesday, Spicer reiterated earlier statements that the President’s priority would be on criminals.  “His priorities, first and foremost, are the people in this country that seek to do us harm,” he said.

Reactions to the immigration actions were swift from eight immigration and refugee-rights groups who joined a conference call to denounce the new orders.  They argue that the orders make the U.S. less safe and tear apart families and communities across the country. Advocates said the executive orders are “anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-religious freedom”.  None of the advocacy organizations that were on the call had been briefed or received any guidance from the Trump Administration on the orders and future immigration plans.

Advocacy groups are preparing to take legal action and provide lawyers to protect people who are concerned about pending visa applications, hate crimes and continued confusion at the U.S. border.  Many mayors of U.S. cities who have adopted sanctuary policies have said they are ready and willing to push back on Trump’s funding plans.

Advertisements