Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

Stated in the guise of public safety, this is in fact an executive order aimed at immigration law enforcement, especially expediting deportation of illegal aliens. It appears to be an attempt to push enforcement of immigration law beyond any normal interpretation, limited only by the phrase “..to the fullest extent of the law..” (meaning limits by other laws, as well as immigration laws), which may well be the only way to keep this order from being an ominous, fear-producing unilateral act.

For example, along with various cited sections of immigration law that  identify those who should be deported, the following are listed as additional targets for deportation.

…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.

I find most of those to be far beyond what would normally be considered acceptable law. For example, to treat as guilty those who are merely charged, or more ominously by some zealous law enforcement official to be determined to have committed acts that could be chargeable criminal offense, whether or not a prosecutor has determined a reasonable amount of evidence to prosecute, is in my view significant overreach of law enforcement. This executive order would give individual immigration officers the power determine if an individual poses a risk without review by anyone – a recipe for disaster and rampant abuse.

The attempt to revoke Federal funding for so called “sanctuaries” is also very likely unconstitutional and would almost certainly be tested the first time this order is invoked to do that.

There is one interesting provision I had not seen reported in various news accounts of this action. It includes this: “…to take all appropriate action to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers…”. The focus intended appears to be enforcement rather than processing of status.

Although there are so many parts of this that are alarming, from a rule of law and legal rights point of view, I will cite just one more.

Sec. 14.  Privacy Act.  Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.

It is difficult to believe many Americans would find elimination of rights of privacy as being acceptable for anyone.

This executive order is the first one I have seen that is, in my view, clearly an abuse of the authority of the office. Our best hope is that those charged with implementation are extremely careful to follow all existing law to effectively nullify many of the provisions here and not use this order as license to attempt to overreach those laws until caught and called to account for it.

Signed and posted January 25, 2017

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