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Eileen Bretz Comments on Impact of Executive Order to Enforce the Immigration and Naturalization Act

With the controversy surrounding President Trump’s executive order to prevent refugees from coming into the United States, Eileen Bretz, Partner, Bretz & Coven, LLP, says the executive order to enforce the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) creates more actual hardships for undocumented immigrants staying in this country.

On January 25, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for the removal of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally and gives law enforcement personnel at all levels of government the authority to investigate, arrest, and detain those who may have come into the U.S. illegally. In addition, the order provides for the hiring of 10,000 new Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers; the funding needed to hire those officers would require approval from Congress.

It also gives the Department of Homeland Security the power to deport those who have committed, been charged with or been convicted of a criminal offense or pose a danger to society. While the executive order seeks the removal of those who committed serious crimes such as murder or assault, it also calls for those who committed nonviolent acts — such as fraud and identity theft — to be deported.

During the week of February 5, ICE conducted a series of raids across eleven states — including New York — that resulted in the arrests of more than 600 undocumented immigrants, with more than 40 arrested in New York. According to ICE, these raids were planned out before President Trump took office and a majority of those who were arrested either had a violent criminal history or had warrants out for their arrest.

The most publicized deportation that week involved 36-year-old Guadalupe García de Rayos, an undocumented immigrant living in Phoenix, Arizona. On February 8, Ms. García de Rayos — who came to the U.S. at the age of 14 — was arrested and deported after a routine check-in with the agency. It was found that, during a workplace raid in 2008, she was arrested and later convicted of using a fake Social Security number (SSN) to obtain employment. She is now separated from her husband and two children, who remain in the U.S.

Ms. Bretz acknowledges that undocumented immigrants falsely obtain driver’s licenses and SSNs in order to stay in the country to work, but she advises her clients not to do so. She also warns immigrants not to purchase a fake birth certificate to get a driver’s license and not to use a false SSN or one that is being used by someone else. “Instead, many people have been applying for and getting a Tax ID and the Internal Revenue Service has apparently or tacitly allowed it,” she says. “But Tax IDs are used for businesses, not individuals.”

Under this executive order, Ms. Bretz says, those who are not living in the U.S. without the proper documentation will be more negatively impacted than the current travel ban on the refugees. “I call upon this administration and ICE to view crimes committed pursuant to the underlying immigration offense the same, and not for deportation purposes,” she says. “Many immigrants have wrongly secured false documentation, but they should not be treated the same as the violent felons who pose a danger in this country.”

For more information, call (212) 267-2555.

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