Unauthorized Immigrants with Criminal Convictions – REMOVAL PRIORITY
During an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, President Trump was asked about his pledge to deport illegal immigrants, and he responded: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.” In a policy that dates back to the Obama Administration, undocumented aliens with criminal records will remain an enforcement priority into the future under this new president.
In a policy that dates back to the Obama Administration, criminal aliens will remain an enforcement priority into the future under the new president. According to DHS, there are 1.9 million noncitizens identified by DHS as removable criminal aliens, in other words noncitizens identified for deportation from the United States based on a criminal conviction. This includes those with green cards or are otherwise in the US on a legal visa but who have run afoul of our criminal laws and are in removal proceedings. The immigration enforcement system has already been retooled to focus on this particular group of aliens. In FY 2008, convicted criminals represented 31 percent of all removals carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The number has steadily risen and accounted for 59 percent of removals in FY 2015, the most recent year for which ICE has released removals data.
It is not known exactly if and when President Trump will begin to shift his attention from criminal aliens to encompass the removal of all of the undocumented. However, given the growing inhospitable climate towards immigrants, exacerbated under Trump, anything is possible. Most vulnerable would be those currently on deferred action such as DACA recipients, those whose authorized stay has expired and students who have fallen out of status or whose I-20 have been terminated in the SEVIS system.One thing is certain. When ICE, the US immigration enforcement division, decides to move in on someone, it will move very swiftly placing people in detention or reinstating a prior removal order. For those with prior removal orders, no trial is necessary for ICE to enforce your removal. Given the reality, immigrants who have criminal records as well as immigrants who lack legal status, particularly those with prior removal orders show have a back up plan for the care of their families, particularly children, in case of their removal.