The Trump administration’s executive order on immigration and border security — which could ensnare as many as 8 million people — already looks like a logistical nightmare to those who will be tasked with enforcing it.
The order, which was signed two days before a controversial travel ban, would enlist state and local law enforcement as immigration officials and strong-arms cities into compliance by threatening cuts in federal funding.
President Donald Trump has already called for the construction of new detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border to house what appears to be, based on internal communications obtained by The Intercept, a large-scale deportation effort that’s already underway.
The arrest and deportation Thursday of 35-year-old Guadalupe García de Rayos, a Phoenix mother who’s lived in the U.S. since she was 14, shows how immigration enforcement has already changed under Trump’s executive order.
García de Rayos had checked in with her local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for eight years, since she was busted for using a fake Social Security number in 2008 so she could work, but that offense hadn’t previously been prioritized for deportation — but those rules have changed under Trump.
The order steps up two controversial programs — Secure Communities, which coordinates sharing of biometric data between local jails and ICE officials, and 287(g), which deputizes local police as immigration enforcement officers and has been linked to racial profiling in Latino communities.
Cities that don’t follow Trump administration orders could lose federal funding — which could kill programs that that help poor Latino communities, such as Head Start, public housing and HIV prevention and relief.
“Trump’s plan is a blueprint to implement his campaign promises of mass deportation, and it puts in place the Deportation Force to carry out his plan,” warned immigration attorney David Leopold. “It’s clear that the executive orders were crafted by the most extreme anti-immigrant zealots in Trump’s orbit.”
“That thing is vicious,” Leopold added. “It’s vicious.”
The Intercept reported that a top ICE official sent out an email plea Monday for volunteers to conduct screening interviews at two for-profit immigrant detention facilities — Eloy and Florence — in Arizona to enforce Trump’s order.
A senior U.S. immigration official told The Intercept that the volunteers would likely conduct about 125 interviews a week, for two-week assignments, to begin processing expedited removal cases to identify undocumented immigrants who are seeking asylum.
If those volunteers don’t believe their asylum claims, their case is turned over to ICE and deportation proceedings begin.
Trump’s order requires local law enforcement and city governments to support immigration officials, although several large cities are expected to join San Francisco in challenging portions of the executive order.
Law enforcement officials from the Major Cities Chiefs Association expressed concerns about funding to cover those new local immigration duties and the order’s lack of clarity on how those duties should be carried out, the website reported.
The chief of police for Houston was more explicit, saying Trump’s order was simply “political theater” that would pull police away from preventing and investigating violent crime to target day laborers potentially violating immigration laws.
“If these type of ill-advised, poorly thought-out public policies were to go through — where they try to take away my ability to control the workforce, to control the priorities of my workforce — there are going to be unintended consequences and those unintended consequences are going to result in additional crime,” said Art Acevedo, police chief for the largest city in Texas and the nation’s fourth largest.
“You cannot be the party of law and order and not listen to your police chiefs and your police executives,” Acevedo added. “You can’t. Doesn’t add up.”