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While the Trump Administration may be doing away with many of former President Obama’s immigration enforcement policies, his moves are really not as one-sided as the press would indicate.  There has been much publicity about the February 21, 2017 release of two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, but those memos actually leave in place President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young, undocumented immigrants from deportation and provides them with work permits.  The memos also continue President Obama’s 2014 memo expanding DACA and creating the deferred action for parents of native-born Americans and lawful permanent residents.  However, these programs are being blocked by court injunctions and therefore are not really currently effective.  Many of the directives in the Executive Order are an actual attempt to enforce the laws that are already on the books, but that were relaxed under President Obama.

Some say the memos have the effect of sending a strong message to illegal immigrants as a deterrence to illegal entry.  The memos expand the Obama Administration’s focus on immigrants who committed serious crimes to include broader categories of illegal immigrants subject to jail or to deportation.  The Administration also may expand expedited removal, and calls for the aid of local authorities to enforce immigration laws.  The President seems to be moving towards tightening criteria for letting people into the U.S. and to increase searches at the border.  There also may be longer background checks for those seeking visas. 

While some of the press have referred to arrests during "raids" of illegal immigrants, the government asserted that those picked up were "criminal aliens," convicted of various crimes, and were part of targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations.  In any event, these enforcement actions were not at employer establishments and were not the type of workplace raids carried out during the Bush Administration.

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