Almost the day Trump took office he passed an Executive Order making a huge swath of immigrants higher priority for deportation. The list includes criminal convicts. But it also includes anyone simply charged with a crime, and then adds anyone who has done something that could be a crime, even if never charged or arrested. Add to that anyone who has misrepresented anything to a government agency (think using a fake social security number to get a job). Throw in anyone who has a removal order, and anyone who took an extra piece of the welfare pie such as adding one more kid to the food stamp pot. All are now top priorities for deportation.
To round it out, Trump’s higher priority list includes anyone whom any immigration officer considers to be risky. So we have a law that purports to prioritize who should be deported that is ridiculously broad and vague. At the same time, it allows ICE officers a shocking amount of discretion in choosing who gets deported. And this makes the law so random in its enforcement, that one would be hard pressed to find that it serves due process. And it is even harder to imagine that it adds one iota to national security.
What follows is the pertinent section of the actual Order:
Sec. 5. Enforcement Priorities. In executing faithfully the immigration laws of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall prioritize for removal those aliens described by the Congress in sections 212(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 235, and 237(a)(2) and (4) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 1225, and 1227(a)(2) and (4)), as well as removable aliens who:
(a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;
(b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;
(c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
(d) Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;
(e) Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
(f) Are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
(g) In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
That is a whole lot of discretion and judgment on the part of immigration officers across the country. Wouldn’t it be better to have a clearly written and strongly delineated policy so we could have the rule of law and due process apply to immigration enforcement?