(ESPAÑOL) With the Mexican wall on the drawing board and the first immigration order fiasco, America prepares itself for its promised immigration overhaul. Now that the administration has delivered a more comprehensive immigration plan, we have an opportunity to analyze it and provide a prognosis of the future.
“Deportation” has been the cornerstone of Trump’s plan, but the true question at hand is the scope of such deportations. Trump’s executive order not only targets criminals convicted of violent crimes or serious misdemeanors, but also people who have been “charged with any crime” or “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” Another category is “fraud” and “willful misrepresentation”, which could easily apply to any undocumented immigrant who has attempted to hide their status. Finally, immigration agents are given a general discretion to target anyone who they believe would “pose a risk to public safety or national security.”
This means that a great deal of undocumented immigrants will be targeted by the new standards, ramping up arrests and detentions greatly. But there is still an unresolved problem that throws a hitch to this great number of arrests: there are only 300 immigration judges in the country, and the backlog of cases is overwhelming.
Not to mention that detention centers, and even some local jails, are overcrowded by immigrant detainees awaiting process at these overburdened courts. To increase arrests without first solving the court issue will have disastrous consequences to the entire system.
The solutions are limited; one of the choices is to expedite the legal processing of undocumented immigrants, which by itself could imply possibly abridging the detainee’s legal rights in the system. This means that the best possible follow-up to the new immigration orders would be an expansion of the immigration legal system, with either a restructuring of the court dockets or the hiring of more judges.
Considering how unexpected the recent shifts in immigration policy have been, we could only hope this would lead to a more efficient system rather than its collapse.