In the days leading up to the midterm elections, President Trump amped up his anti-immigration rhetoric and announced a number of proposed policies to secure the border and make it harder for undocumented immigrants to enter and stay in the country. While these announcements have helped to rally his base, there are many questions surrounding the legality of these proposals.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about these announcements and whether or not they have a real chance of becoming law or part of immigration policy.
Q: Can the president order the military to shoot incoming immigrants?
A: The President responded to news of a massive caravan of migrants from Central America heading to the US-Mexico border by threatening to send more than 15,000 active duty military troops to the border and ordering them to shoot anyone who throw rocks at them. Can he do this?
The simple answer is yes and no.
While the military can be deployed to the border, it is very unlikely they will honor a directive to shoot members of the migrant caravan as that would be, as retired Army General Mark Hertling calls it, “an unlawful order,” citing the Law of Land Warfare.
Q: Can the president keep asylum seekers in massive tent cities?
A: Another response of the president to the incoming migrant caravan is a proposal to build sprawling tent cities to house asylum seekers while they await the results of their asylum applications.
“We’re going to catch, we’re not going to release,” Trump said
If the president does sign an executive order for the rushed expansion of immigrant detention facilities, federal courts are expected to counter the move with a rush of temporary injunctions. Such was the fate of several other failed Trump executive orders in the past.
Q: Can the president designate where asylum seekers can enter the country?
President Trump also intends to require individuals seeking asylum to enter the country only through legal ports of entry. This goes against current immigration laws, which clearly state that it does not matter whether a migrant seeks asylum at or between border crossings.
Additionally, official border crossings have become extremely clogged and can no longer accommodate more asylum seekers. This is especially true for crossings in Arizona, California, and Texas, where asylum seekers end up waiting as much five weeks to enter.
The number of asylum claims has also spiked in recent years, with immigrant courts facing a tremendous backlog of over 800,000 pending cases.
Q: Can the President really repeal the 14th Amendment?
He can try, but he probably won’t succeed.
Trump expressed plans to end birthright citizenship, calling it “ridiculous” and threatening to end the constitutionally mandated practice through an executive order. The problem is that executive orders alone do not have the authority to arbitrarily amend the 14th Amendment, which outlines the concept of jus soli (i.e. citizenship by birth) or any other part of the US Constitution for that matter.
The lawfully sound approach to amending the U.S. Constitution, a Constitutional Convention, is also likely to fail as Democrats now comprise the majority of Congress.
For more immigration news and updates on these proposed policies, be sure to follow this blog. If you, or a loved one, are concerned about these immigration updates, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215.5225 to learn how Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle can help you.