The former head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says a sweeping executive order signed by President Trump that allows any unauthorized immigrant to be deported for even being suspected of a minor crime will affect many more people than will Trump’s other immigration policies. “All this focus in the early days has been on the refugee vetting,” said Sarah Saldaña, but “this immigration executive order is huge,” reports the Dallas Morning News. The order not only prioritizes removal from the country of those convicted of a criminal offense but also acts “that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” Immigration lawyers and immigrant advocates say the change would give federal authorities the power to remove an unauthorized immigrant who is simply suspected of breaking a law.
Saldaña, an Obama appointee who was the head of ICE for two years, said she has been surprised by the scope of Trump’s executive orders dealing with immigration. She says money and litigation will create big obstacles for Trump as he tries to implement his policies. She suggested the executive orders will soak up far more than Congress is ready to spend, noting that Congress wasn’t willing to spend more during her tenure. “We don’t have billions sitting around,” Saldaña said. “My budget while at ICE was almost $6 billion and we were stretching to do the things we were doing that are much more narrowly focused than this administration proposes. So if you expand the mission, you will have to expand the budget.” One Trump order authorizes the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration officers “to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations.” Filling positions was challenging enough during her ICE tenure, Saldaña said. New workers “need security clearances. We have to train them properly. If we don’t, we are asking for trouble,” she cautioned. “I am not saying you shouldn’t have 10,000 more. I just don’t know where the money will come to fund them.”