Week in Review: Trump's Executive Orders


During his first week in office, President Trump issued several controversial executive orders ("EO") related to immigration. Below is a timeline of what has happened since Trump took office.

Wednesday (01/25/2017): President Trump signed two EOs. Through the EO entitled "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements", the President directed the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), John Kelly, to begin the process of building a wall along the United States-Mexico border. Specifically, the EO directs the DHS Secretary to "take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border..." Trump also ordered Secretary Kelly to allocate federal funds for the multi-billion-dollar project. In addition to building the wall, the EO also ordered the end of "catch and release", requiring that anyone apprehended for violating immigration laws be detained for the duration of their removal proceedings. Finally, the EO calls for the hiring of 5,000 additional border patrol agents and the construction of new detention facilities along the border.

On Wednesday, President Trump also signed the "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" EO. In this EO, Trump defines criteria by which DHS should prioritize removals. Trump also addresses "sanctuary cities", or municipalities that do not help the federal government enforce immigration laws. Trump's EO directs the federal government to withhold federal grants from jurisdictions designated as "sanctuary cities" by DHS. This EO also calls for the hiring of 10,000 new immigration officers.

Friday (01/27/2017): President Trump signed EO "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States". The EO suspends visa issuance to and entry of all foreign nationals from the following countries for 90 days: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The EO also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and suspends the overall U.S. refugee program for 120 days. Finally, the order indefinitely suspends the visa interview waiver program, which allows certain foreign nationals to obtain visas without attending an in-person visa interview.

Saturday (01/28/2017): A federal judge in New York, Ann Donnelly, blocked part of the travel ban. Specifically, Judge Donnelly issued a stay on Friday's EO prohibiting the government from deporting any detained immigrants with valid green cards, non-immigrant visas, or approved refugee applications. Judges in Virginia, Washington, and Massachusetts subsequently issued similar rulings.

DHS confirmed that, at the time of Judge Donnelly's order, it had denied entry to 109 travelers, though it would not specify how many it had already sent back to their home countries.

Sunday (01/29/2017): In response to the lawsuits, DHS released a statement Sunday afternoon. While stating DHS would comply with judicial orders, the statement noted, "The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of the president's Executive Orders... The president's Executive Orders remain in place..." That release was in line with a White House spokesperson's statement that Saturday's court ruling did not change the President's EO.

Secretary Kelly released a statement later Sunday in which he declared "the entry of lawful permanent residents [green card holders] to be in the national interest." He went on to say, "Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations." Secretary Kelly's statement directly contradicted President Trump's EO, which specifically noted that both immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the United States from banned countries "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States..."

CNN reported that, according a statement from the DHS Press Secretary on Sunday evening, no one "from the initial group affected by the travel ban executive order" is currently being detained.


While many details set forth in these EOs remain to be fleshed out, it is clear that the Trump Administration intends to place an increased emphasis on immigration enforcement, particularly in regard to the removal of those who have been convicted of crimes and those who have been charged with crimes. While the Administration is expected to provide more information about its enforcement priorities in the days ahead, it is expected that there will also be an increase in efforts to remove persons who have overstayed after a lawful entry.

Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.