AILA Public Statements, Press Releases, Advocacy & Media

AILA: Ramped Up Enforcement Will Trample Due Process and Harm Families and Communities

2/21/17 AILA Doc. No. 17022136. Admissions & Border, Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) condemned the recently released Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memos that set forth a series of aggressive enforcement tactics to be rolled out on a massive scale. These policies, if implemented as written, will trample due process.

AILA President William A. Stock noted, "Targeted enforcement, focused on actual national security threats, makes sense. However, these memos, which seem to treat everyone as an enforcement priority, aren't going to make us safer, and they are already causing fear in communities across the nation. With these memos, DHS is reshaping immigration enforcement in a way that is antithetical to American values and our country's historic commitment to justice and due process by targeting people who have not even been charged with a crime. Further, the massive increase in detention called for will require billions in funding, which Congress will have to impose on American taxpayers to make this plan a reality, and the lack of provision for hiring the necessary immigration judges and asylum officers to handle the influx of cases means the system will become even more backlogged and dysfunctional."

Benjamin Johnson, AILA's Executive Director expressed deep concern over the new memos and the administration's clear decision to implement an enforcement-only immigration policy. "The President is unleashing a massive deportation force, and declaring open season on immigrants and the communities where they live and work. If President Trump's intention is to protect our nation from those who would do us harm, then these memos are a losing strategy. The laundry list of policies outlined in the memos will draw attention and resources away from targeted efforts to protect public safety, and will harm the most vulnerable populations who will undoubtedly get swept up and removed from the United States without any opportunity to consult with a lawyer or see a judge. Our immigration system is completely out of sync with the needs of American families and businesses, and these draconian enforcement policies are going to make things worse, not better. It is time for the President and Congress to get to work on real solutions that will help American families and the economy while remaining true to our values."

The signed memos include:

  • Elimination of any meaningful enforcement priorities, which amounts to a declaration of "open season" on all unauthorized individuals, including families and those who have lived here for years.
  • Expansion of expedited removal, likely to the entire country and to anyone who has not been in the country at least two years. Using expedited removal, CBP and ICE can unilaterally deport people without them ever having the opportunity for a judge to review their case or to seek legal counsel.
  • Resurrection of the Secure Communities program, which was discontinued because of its constitutionally suspect use of "detainer" holds, and which police and sheriffs have resisted because it leads to unconstitutional detention without probable cause, and exposes localities to legal liability.
  • Aggressive recruitment of state and local law enforcement to enter into 287(g) agreements to engage in border and interior enforcement-these agreements undermine trust of law enforcement and have led to racial profiling and other abusive practices against immigrant communities by law enforcement.
  • Massive expansion of detention by requiring DHS to detain nearly everyone it apprehends, including those with no criminal convictions, likely more than 200,000 people on a daily basis, at huge cost to taxpayers.
  • Denial of vital protections for children, obligated under the Trafficking Victim Protection and Reauthorization Act and the Homeland Security Act, by restricting the interpretation of "unaccompanied alien child."

AILA urges anyone who may be impacted by these new enforcement policies to review "Know Your Rights" information, and to speak to a qualified immigration attorney about their situation. Being fully informed of one's statutory and Constitutional rights is the best defense in a time of turmoil.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.