Immigration and the New Administration

Scott Railton

Attorney Scott Railton
Cascadia Cross-Border Law

1305 11th Street, Suite 301 Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: 360-671-5945
Fax: 360-676-5459

So, what can we expect locally, with the Trump Administration, in regards to immigration? So far, at least six Executive Orders affecting immigration have been issued. Additional draft memos, heavy on enforcement, have also been leaked. Here’s a few things that may happen:

The border is likely to “harden” in coming months, as CBP officers are emboldened by a culture that promotes “No” as an answer. To quote a Trump tweet: “I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!” Those brief business trips may receive closer scrutiny, as well as those cross-border relationships.

Nexus and Global Entry has been revoked for some persons who are nationals of the seven countries who were temporarily banned in the foreign terrorist order. Theoretically, trusted traveler programs help CBP focus on threats.

We may see the return of some sort of special registration system, such as the NSEERs program that was used after 9/11. The program required certain nationals to register and check in periodically with the government. The program determined ineffective and redundant, and canceled.

The Executive Order on border security calls for the additional of 5000 CBP officers. Funding is needed, but locally, we may see more officers and green and white trucks.

Similarly, the “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the US” Order calls for 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. ICE’s enforcement priorities have been expanded from serious crimes to anyone who has been arrested. ICE has commenced targeted raids, via Operation Cross Check, and is removing persons who are fugitives, persons who have re-entered after deportation, persons on supervised release, and “at-large” criminals. Funding for the additional officers will have to be passed by Congress. Fear has already set in.

The Trump Administration wants to reinvigorate the §287(g) program, which makes local law enforcement immigration enforcement.

Businesses can expect I-9 investigations to increase. By the way—the I9 form was updated in January.

The various travel bans, on hold for now, have the potential to affect local families and employers. The impact is even greater if dual nationals and lawful permanent residents are included.

There will be an effort to build detention facilities along the border. The growth in the detention business over the past 10 years has been exponential, and it looks to keep growing. The Trump Administration has said they will halt “catch and release” practices. Consequently, immigration court dockets will likely become even more backlogged.

The border security order also calls, once again, for the implementation of an entry-exit system, to better keep track of arrivals and departures in the air, land, sea, and in between. The government has been working on this since at least 1996. Some progress has been made as technology has improved, and the work continues, apparently.

Trump is also going after the “sanctuary cities,” by threatening their federal funding. This may be harder than it sounds. Issues include precisely what it means to “inhibit” a federal effort. There is also Supreme Court case law which says limitations of this sort need to be focused on related programs, rather than wholesale funding cuts. Federal immigration holds, strictly for immigration purposes, have been held to violate the 4th Amendment.

Still to come: possible renegotiation of NAFTA, which has the potential to have great impact on locally, with regard to workers and cross-border business travel. Also, we’re still waiting to hear what the Administration will do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. It seems this is on hold for the moment. And then there’s a leaked White House memo calling for evaluation of all business class non-immigrant statuses, and the enforcement of certain employer compliance measures. We are also watching for changes to trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry and NEXUS, as we understand some statuses have been revoked.

Bridge Act for DREAMers Receiving Bipartisan Support
The Bar Removal of Immigrants who Dream and Grow the Economy (BRIDGE) Act has been introduced in the Senate, with an increased showing of bipartisan support. The incoming Trump Administration has said it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which Republicans deem to be an overreach of presidential authority. The Supreme Court split 4-4 on this question, in last term’s U.S. v. Texas et al.

So, now comes the BRIDGE Act, cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). A companion bill has been introduced in the House.
The BRIDGE Act does not legalize status, but it would allow qualifying undocumented young people to apply for work authorization for three years, just like DACA. Further, it provides that information submitted will not be used against the applicants, with some exceptions, such as national security. Approximately 750,000 people have applied for benefits under the DACA program since 2012.