Kerry Bretz, Partner, Bretz & Coven, LLP, says President Donald J. Trump’s executive actions on immigration — especially the return of the Secured Communities (SCOMM) program — will prove to be a difficult time for any immigrants currently residing in the U.S. and those looking to enter the country. Mr. Bretz adds that, since President Trump’s election, he has received numerous inquiries from new, potential and existing clients.
On January 25, President Trump signed a series of executive actions, including one that proposes the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in order to stop the flow of immigrants entering the U.S illegally. Under his proposal, the U.S. would build the wall and the Mexican government would reimburse the U.S. for the cost of the wall’s construction. The other executive action ends “catch and release” — in which those who are caught entering the country unlawfully would be sent back to Mexico instead of being arrested and processed for deportation — and restores the SCOMM program, which gives all law enforcement personnel at every level of government the same powers as an immigration official: to investigate, detain and arrest anyone who may be undocumented.
In addition, President Trump ordered to withhold visas from countries and use other necessary means to force nations to take back their native residents who have broken laws in the U.S. He also announced that he will strip “sanctuary cities” — local municipalities which allow undocumented immigrants to stay and refuse to hand them over to immigration officials — of any federal grant monies.
The president is also expected to call for a moratorium on the admission of refugees into the country and a temporary ban on those coming from countries where a majority of its inhabitants are Muslims until a proper vetting process can be put in place; the exception would be for those fleeing from religious persecution.
These executive actions are some of the promises President Trump made during his campaign. He also proposed mass deportations of illegal immigrants, and the termination of Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“These proposals put forth by the president may have positive benefits, but could also be very harmful to immigrants currently living here as well as those looking to enter the country,” Mr. Bretz says. “My biggest concern is the reinstatement of the SCOMM program because, if a police officer stops someone who ‘looks’ foreign or has an accent, they can ask that person about their immigration status and perhaps arrest them. It will also negatively affect law enforcement, as non-citizens and those who may be undocumented will not report any crimes to the police or assist them in any way out of fear of being arrested and deported.”
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