Discussion about immigration law was probably never as heated as when Donald Trump put his hat in the ring to run for President — but it’s even more so now that he’s won. Many politicians have promised to take immigration law and its enforcement seriously in the past, but not much has been changed over the past several decades.
However, now immigration lawyers better hold on to their courtroom chairs. Jeff Sessions has unveiled his plan to target immigrants who are on American soil without permission, and more importantly, his ideas to follow through with enforcing current immigration laws.
This past week, Sessions outlined and reiterated a plan to enlist the nation’s top law enforcement agents to overhaul America’s current immigration status. Trump promised a return to law and order on the campaign trail, and Sessions promised that the Justice Department would no longer take a backseat nor turn a blind eye to those who enter the border illegally. He also stated that law officials would take crimes committed by immigrants more seriously and would target those who were illegally smuggling drugs over the border.
The goal of the agenda put forth is to stop the movement of illegals across the border, catch those who are here illegally, and most importantly, to stop repeat deportation offenders. Those who are in opposition to the crackdown on illegal immigration laws and law enforcement maintain that it is just another attempt by Sessions to stereotypically paint illegal immigrants as “thieves and murderers,” when statistics show that they actually commit fewer crimes than American-born citizens.
The most problematic portion of Sessions’ new rollout is that while he pledges to cut the Justice Department budget by over a billion dollars, he is also asking for hundreds of millions of dollars to increase the number of federal immigration prosecutors and US Marshals to guard the border. That might be a taller order than Trump can deliver at this point and still stay on target.
What it will mean for immigration lawyers across the nation is that the number of prosecutions is going to rise in proportion to the new immigration agenda. An already overwhelmed and crowded justice system is about to take on a new venture, whether they are ready for it or not. The good news is that instead of attempting to create stricter laws and impose sanctions, the Justice Department is promising to focus on enforcing the laws that are already in place.
Whether or not you agree with Trump about keeping refugees from American soil or his stance on stopping immigration from specific areas of the world, the new Sessions plan isn’t anything new for immigration law. The only new thing that he is pledging is that instead of ignoring the laws and looking the other way — like sanctuary cities have done — he intends to enforce the laws of the land. Without any real changes in policy, there is a lot of opposition to enforcing what is already there. Some might question why America would have laws in the first place if prosecutors don’t intend to enforce them. A new Justice Department is about to show that it isn’t about new laws on paper, it is about enforcing the ones that already exist. Immigration lawyers better be prepared for a bumpy and very hectic ride ahead.
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