After running his campaign on a strict immigration policy, President Donald Trump has wasted little time in rolling out new executive orders and enforcement guidelines aimed at deporting immigrants. After his travel ban was immediately ruled unconstitutional by numerous courts, Trump has issued new enforcement guidelines for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which allows immigration officials to arrest and deport immigrants with barely any hearings.
Unfortunately, this kind of enforcement policy will have drastic impacts on not just immigrants, but U.S. citizens, too.
Impact on Immigrants
An important result of Trump's new enforcement guidelines is that immigrants – whether they are in the country illegally or through the legal visa process – need to avoid being convicted for a crime of any sort.
In the past, only illegal immigrants who committed serious offenses were prioritized for deportation. Earlier administrations had decided that this had struck the delicate balance between enforcement costs and economic value, on the one hand, and security, on the other.
Now, though, the current administration has promised to seek deportation for minor violations of the law, including the country's immigration law. This means that illegal immigrants could be deported, even if they haven't been convicted for anything. Breaking the immigration law by being in the country illegally is enough to get arrested and deported.
Impact on U.S. Citizens
As a criminal defense attorney, it's this last fact that's the most disturbing. It doesn't invite immigration officials to detain U.S. citizens who look like immigrants – it requires them to do it. When immigration officials are tasked with enforcing immigration laws by finding illegal immigrants, you can count on them rounding up anyone who looks like an immigrant or speaks like one and bullying them with all the force of the law.
Even if you've done nothing wrong and are abiding by the law, if you don't look like an American or if you speak with a heavy accent, immigration officials can approach you, ask you questions, detain you, and make an arrest.
The Importance of a Criminal Defense Attorney
Even in the state of Maine – far from the southern border with Mexico – immigration officials will be active. Our ports and harbors accept travelers from all sorts of countries, so law enforcement from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and DHS will be on the lookout. That they can now arrest people essentially without probable cause is cause for worry.
The result will likely be an increase in the number of criminal charges that people face throughout the state of Maine. If police are allowed to detain anyone without more than a fleeting suspicion, they're bound to find illegal activity through sheer chance and volume.
If you do get charged with a crime, defending it to the last of your ability is even more necessary than before. The current administration has made it clear that they will deport foreigners for any reason, no matter how trivial. A criminal conviction is more than they need.
If you or someone you know has been charged for a crime in the state of Maine, call the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online for vigorous defense.