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  Policy and Public Interest Groups
Migration Policy Institute
July 19, 2017

The Trump Administration at Six Months: A Sea Change in Immigration Enforcement
By Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter

In 2014, the Obama administration significantly narrowed the focus of its enforcement efforts, identifying as top priorities for removal those posing threats to national security and public safety, felons or significant misdemeanants, recent arrivals, and those who had final orders of removal issued in 2014 or later. It also encouraged ICE attorneys to exercise prosecutorial discretion in various ways. They could do this, for example, by closing court cases in certain circumstances, including when the noncitizen fell outside the priority categories for enforcement and had extensive ties to the United States. The Trump administration has fundamentally recast those enforcement guidelines, and has virtually eliminated the practice of using discretion to close cases. (ICE agreed to close fewer than 100 cases monthly in the first six months of the Trump administration, compared to the monthly average of 2,400 during the second half of the Obama administration, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse). Although individuals convicted of criminal offenses remain an enforcement priority, so are those charged with a criminal offense but not yet convicted; those who have engaged in behavior that an immigration officer believes could result in a chargeable offense; anyone who has fraudulently accessed public benefits or committed fraud in an immigration application; noncitizens subject to a final order of removal, however old that order may be; and, perhaps most importantly, anyone who could be considered a public safety threat in the eyes of an immigration officer.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2017
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