This document is not legal advice or authority, rather it is for informational purposes only.
This short article aims to bring advocates up to speed on some of the key points of the most recently published Executive Orders (EO). The information provided is likely to change since some of the provisions became effective immediately while others will require additional guidance. Understanding these gaps is crucial in order for advocates to voice their concerns about how these EOs make our communities less safe silencing survivors and pushing them into the shadows. In addition, there could be additional EOs issued in the near future.
So far, the administration has published four EOs that directly affect the safety of immigrant survivors. An easy way of classifying these orders is to break them into two broad categories--interior enforcement versus border enforcement. [Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (“Border Enforcement Order”) Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (“Interior Enforcement Order”)] The EOs on interior and border enforcement contain the following main provisions:
A. Interior Enforcement
1. Mandatory collaboration with immigration officers. This provision encourages Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with state and local officials on implementing so-called 287(g) agreements. This means that law enforcement 3 agencies, among others, could be performing functions of immigration officers [click here], including reporting and communicating with the government on immigration status and holding anyone who has been arrested, regardless of whether the person ends up being charged detained for immigration related matters.
Impact on survivors and services: Any exposure to law enforcement may result in immigration intervention and potential deportation. A victim’s safety is in jeopardy because calling for help may result in an arrest due to lack of immigration status. In addition, this could lead to instances of racial profiling and a drain on policing resources.
Advocates should continue their partnerships with law enforcement, DART and SART teams to carve exceptions for victims. It is important to convey that our communities are less safe when inundated with perpetrators who will not be held accountable due to lack of victim reporting. Colleting anonymous stories of survivors at risk who did not report a crime will help prove how unsafe this provision of the EO is for victims and the community at large.
2. Penalties for Sanctuary jurisdictions. State or local agencies that refuse to enforce the EOs will be penalized. The Attorney General may take enforcement actions against jurisdictions that don’t comply. These jurisdictions will no receive federal funding or federal grants with the exception of funding for law enforcement.
Impact on survivors and services. Defunding sanctuary jurisdictions undermines community safety. It has a silencing effect on survivors because they will not call the police--which increases an abuser’s power and control since one false accusation to police could result in the removal of the survivor. In addition, there are no directives from ICE Headquarters regarding the application of Prosecutorial Discretion, which provides certain protections for victims with that may be eligible for immigration relief.
Impact on advocates. It is unclear what impact the EOs will have on funding for DV/SA programs. Further, it is not clear either what are the guidance provided to ICE when encountering survivors. Advocates should be proactive and reach out to ICE. Request a meeting with ICE, for example, to build relations that would not undermine existing executive memorandums or directives that protect survivors regardless of whether the agency decides to become a sanctuary agency.
3. Penalties for individuals who are “unlawfully present” and “those who facilitate their presence." The EO directs DHS to issue guidance and regulations to collect penalties from “unlawfully present” individuals and “those who facilitate their presence. It is unclear the impact this provision might have on domestic violence and sexual assault programs as well as other human services providers.
4. Expedited Removals. As part of the enforcement strategies, the EO expands expedited removals from the border to the interior. Expedited removal is a mechanism used by immigration officers to immediately remove a person without a hearing in front of the immigration judge and an opportunity to present remedies.
Impact on survivors and services. This means that any survivor encountered who cannot show continuous physical presence of at least two (2) years may be automatically removed without an opportunity to defend her case.
Advocates. The advocate community should learn how to work on expanded and comprehensive safety plans that includes key documentation and strategies to avoid survivors being swiftly removed. Help survivors collect important documents (e.g., identification, medical and financial information), carry name of attorney or advocate and phone number, share “Know Your Rights Materials” and make aware the risks of contact with criminal legal system.
5. In addition, there is a considerable increase in Border Patrol (5,000) and Immigration Officers (10,000) working in the interior, which will result in a greater number of raids, arrests and removals.
Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (i.e., Muslim & Refugee Travel Ban Order). Immigrants from seven countries are banned from entering the country temporarily. In addition, there is a mandatory detention of all migrants "apprehended for violations of immigration law pending the outcome" of their immigration cases is of particular concern. This means that people entering the country who are seeking asylum may be detained and forced to present their claims in jail or be subject to expedited removed.
Impact on survivors and services. Many migrants come to the U.S. fleeing persecution or are children running from abuse and neglect. These people rightly qualify for asylum protection or other forms of humanitarian immigration protection. This EO threatens the well-being of these families and it is unclear the extent of the impact on gender asylum survivors who may be turned around and removed at the border.
Advocates. Information is key to your services. As we learn how the EOs will be implemented, your organization and all staff must develop comprehensive safety plans, and internal protocols and policies that respond to a potential raid or investigation by ICE. Build on your local, regional and state allies to work on exceptions that protect survivors and keep our communities safe. Partners with your local immigration advocates and experts to ensure that your work does no harm to survivors and their communities.
Keep checking back for more information, as details continue to change.