Trump’s First Move on U.S. Immigration, Though Not Unexpected, is a Bombshell


Backing up campaign promises that helped him become the 45th President of the United States, today Donald Trump announced executive actions on immigration, called Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. We expect President Trump to announce additional executive actions on immigration later this week.

These executive actions cover the following topics, which are intended to protect U.S. citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the U.S.:

1. Wall Along U.S.-Mexico Border. A wall on the U.S.-Mexico border was one of President Trump’s signature campaign issues. He is now ordering the construction of that wall, based on his supposed authority under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 signed into law by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of “reinforced fencing” along the U.S.-Mexico border along with enhanced surveillance systems, that was never completed. President Trump will still have to contend with how construction will be financed and whether U.S. Congress will enact legislation that overrides current environmental protections for major federal projects.

2. Stop Refugee Admissions. President Trump will enact a 120-day pause in refugee admissions to the U.S., with exceptions permitted for those fleeing religious persecution, if their religion is a minority in their country of nationality. President Trump is also hoping to reduce refugee admissions for FY 2017 to 50,000 from President Obama’s goal of 110,000.

3. Ban Entry to U.S. from Certain Muslim-Majority Countries. President Trump will create a ban on entry into the U.S. for at least 30 days of all immigrants and nonimmigrant nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. He may also require each applicant to demonstrate that he/she is not a security or public-safety threat to the U.S. Other countries may be added and adjudications of other immigration benefits besides visas could be impacted.

4. Uniform Screening for Immigration Benefits. President Trump will add requirements to screenings and procedures for all immigration benefits to identify fraud and detect applicants’ intent to do harm, following up his campaign promise for “extreme vetting.” He will direct immigration agencies to expedite the completion of entries into the biometric entry-exit data system. He will also suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program, requiring all visa applicants to attend a visa interview, unless otherwise exempt by statute.

5. Detention for Illegal Entry. President Trump directed the issuance of new policy guidance to all Department of Homeland Security personnel regarding the appropriate and consistent use of lawful detention authority under the INA, including the termination of the practice commonly known as “catch and release,” whereby aliens are routinely released in the United States shortly after their apprehension for violations of immigration law

6. Curb Funding to Sanctuary Cities. President Trump is expected to move forward with plans to curb funding of “sanctuary cities” that do not arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Like his predecessor, President Trump will use executive actions to enact his preferred immigration policies, as the U.S. Congress remains deadlocked on the politically divisive issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”). Notably, there was a lack of detail regarding the prospect of continuing President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group. Copyright © 2017 Wolfsdorf Connect - All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (, and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in EB-5 investment immigration in addition to the full range of global immigration matters. Joseph Barnett is licensed as an attorney in the State of Illinois and the State of Wisconsin and practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law.

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