The biggest piece of Trump's first executive order was his long-promised wall on the border
Both orders also sought to beef up enforcement agencies in terms of staffing
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed two executive orders on immigration and border security, which included his campaign promises of building a wall and substantially stepping up deportations and immigration enforcement.
The lengthy orders contained a number of provisions designed to execute key elements of the immigration hard-liner’s agenda, including on sanctuary cities, enforcement priorities and cracking down on crime.
“Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump told employees of the Department of Homeland Security at the department’s headquarters in Washington, where he signed the orders.
Here’s a look at the important pieces of the actions signed Wednesday:
The biggest piece of Trump’s first executive order was his long-promised wall on the border with Mexico.
The measure instructs the homeland security secretary to take “steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border,” in order to “achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”
The measure includes instructions to figure out funding, including what federal money sources exist now and what the administration will need to request in congressional appropriations later.
The order also calls for a study within six months on securing the southern border.
Trump has said Mexico will pay for the wall, and stood by that Wednesday, saying he would get reimbursement after building the wall with federal funds. Negotiations, he said, would begin “relatively soon.”
“I’m telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form,” Trump said. “We are going to stabilize on both sides of the border and we also understand that a strong and healthy economy in Mexico is very good for the United States.”
The order directed agencies to conduct an analysis of all federal aid to Mexico over the past five years – previewing Trump’s vision for gaining leverage over the neighboring country.
But the order also seemed to indicate that despite Trump repeatedly insisting he meant a physical wall, there was wiggle room.
“‘Wall’ shall mean a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier,” the order said in its definitions.
Both orders also sought to beef up enforcement agencies in terms of staffing.
The border security order instructed the Department of Homeland Security to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and the other order focused on security of the interior of the nation seeks the addition of 10,000 immigration officers.
Both, however, are “subject to available appropriations,” meaning the agency will need to find funds or Congress will need to appropriate them.
The order seeks to get Border Patrol reinforcements to stations “as soon as is practicable.”
The order also specifies that the additional immigration officers should be trained to perform duties including interrogating, detaining, arresting and searching for people believed to be non-citizens or non-nationals.
The order on border security signals there could be significant efforts to put more immigrants behind bars if they’re caught illegally crossing the border, or if they’re in deportation proceedings.
The order instructs the secretary of homeland security to construct or establish detention facilities near the border and staff them with asylum officers and immigration judges.
It’s unclear how such measures would be funded.
Right now, Congress has appropriated funding for about 34,000 beds for immigrant detention – many of which are in facilities operated by private companies across the country. Meanwhile more than half a million cases are pending in immigration court.
Wednesday’s order directs the secretary of homeland security to “allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control or establish contracts to construct, operate or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.”
It’s likely private prison companies, which saw their stock go up after Trump’s election, will be involved.
End ‘catch and release’
One of the touted elements of the orders is ending what Trump calls “catch and release,” in essence guaranteeing immigrants who could be removed from the country are continuously detained and not let free based on humanitarian concerns.
“It is the policy of the executive branch to end the abuse of parole and asylum provisions currently used to prevent the lawful removal of removable aliens,” the order states.
The section is heavily technical, but orders the homeland security secretary to ensure that allowances in US immigration law to grant individuals asylum or parole based on concerns about persecution in their home country are not “exploited” to block deportations.
The provisions should only be used “when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole,” the order states.
This portion of the order also notes that unaccompanied children detained at the border receive care and are sent back to their home nations as appropriate.
A flood of unaccompanied children at the border created a crisis in recent years, as detention facilities were unable to humanely accommodate high numbers. The increased influx of minors crossing the border without adults were largely fleeing violence in Central America.
Trump’s “interior” security order takes aim at so-called sanctuary jurisdictions – cities, states and other entities that through a range of policies shield undocumented immigrants from federal law enforcement.
The order will “strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants,” according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer in his daily briefing.
The order declares that entities labeled “sanctuary jurisdictions” by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will be “not eligible” for federal grants, and it directs the Office of Management and Budget to compile federal grant money currently going to sanctuary jurisdictions.
The order appears to apply mostly to future federal grants, though after OMB’s review, Spicer explained that the funding identified could be taken away.
While the administration likely can’t cut off all federal funding, as much of it is disbursed through Congress, the President could put some pressure on cities this way.
Any attempts to enact this provision will almost certainly face a legal challenge – past court rulings have weighed in on the government stripping fun