(David Sturman is a Los Angeles immigration attorney based in Encino, California. He has more than 35 years experience protecting clients from deportation)

Since President Trump announced his strict new immigration policies in February fear and panic has spread across the immigrant communities of this country.  Some of the fears are justified but most are not.  Learn the truth about these new rules and how to protect yourself.

Deporting all criminals and those with orders of deportation

The previous immigration policy under President Obama was a concentration on deporting violent criminals such as gang members, felons and those who posed security threats. Most other illegal immigrants were given a pass under what was known as “prosecutorial discretion.”  Under this policy many deportation cases for non-criminals were simply closed.

Under the new directives, the government “no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” Immigration agents can now focus on picking up and removing anyone charged with or convicted of any criminal offense, even minor ones, as well as anyone already ordered deported, regardless of whether they have a criminal record.

‘Catch and release’

Under the Obama administration, people caught crossing the border without permission were often released into the United States while their requests for asylum wound through the immigration system.

The Trump administration has declared an end to the so-called catch and release policy. However, it may be a while before the government can detain all illegal entrants-there is simply not enough room to house everyone. The new government memo directs officials to expand detention facilities, but it will take time to build these centers.

No judge required-Expedited removal.

Two decades ago, Congress passed a law allowing the government to quickly deport recently arrived undocumented immigrants without a hearing. However, the government has used  “expedited removal,” very rarely because it may violate constitutional rights of due process. For more than 15 years expedited removal has been applied only to immigrants who have been in the country less than two weeks and were caught within 100 miles of the border-so those in Los Angeles have not been subjected to it.

The Trump administration is now planning to use expedited removal as extensively as the original law allows but it will likely face stiff opposition from constitutional rights attorneys.


Some 750,000 people who were brought into the country as children were issued work permits and temporary protection from deportation under an Obama program known as DACA. Even President Trump said that he will “deal with DACA with heart.”  So far Trump has left the program alone.

Police Enforcement of Immigration Law

A program known as 287(g), named for its section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, allows the Department of Homeland Security to train local and state law enforcement officers to work as de facto federal immigration officers, identifying undocumented immigrants in their communities and jails and turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Obama administration curtailed the use of the program, which currently involves 32 agencies in 16 states. The Trump administration wants more agencies to take part, and some have already expressed a desire to do so.

Beefed-up force

The memos call for more ICE officers and Border officers but it will take years to fill all the positions the President envisions.


  1. You  will not be suddenly arrested and deported.  Fears of expedited removal without any right to a hearing are unfounded.  Virtually all immigrants in this country, legal or not have constitutional rights. This means a right to a fair hearing before being deported and a right to have legal representation.  If you are suddenly arrested, you will have access to a phone and in almost all cases the right to a court hearing.  There are many defenses to deportation such as political asylum, adjustment of status or cancellation of removal for those who have resided here for a long time. If you have already been ordered deported but have ignored the order, promptly seek the advice of an immigration attorney.  Most immigrants arrested have the right to release on bond and cannot be held for long periods of time.  If you wish to remain in the U.S. and defend your case, do not sign any offered waivers of your rights or agree to leave the U.S. voluntarily.
  2. News of mass arrests and deportations are false.  Word of mass arrests and deportations have spread across the country like wildfire but in reality the large scale arrests most feared have not taken place.  At this point the government is concentrating on deporting criminals, those who have committed fraud, those who are caught at the border, and those whose applications such as political asylum have been denied.
    Protect yourself by not committing crimes. Be careful not to drink and drive, commit battery, spousal abuse, solicitation, commit drug crimes or engage in fraud and your chances of being deported are dramatically reduced.
    Do not file frivolous, fraudulent or poorly prepared applications with USCIS.  Often times if an application for an immigration benefit, such as political asylum, adjustment of status, or a petition to remove conditional residence is denied, the USCIS will start removal proceedings.  Make sure your application meets all the USCIS requirements or better yet let an experienced immigration attorney review your application before it is filed.
  3. Immigration benefits are not now harder to obtain.  Although Trump promised to crack down on illegal immigration, this policy does not affect most applications for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status, nonimmigrant visas, family petitions or employment based petitions.  The same laws, guidelines and policies remain from the Obama administration.
  4. Don’t become illegal in the first place. Look into ways to obtain a student visa, a working visa, or permanent residence.  You may be qualified now to file.  We offer free consultation for those persons seeking guidance on how to obtain permanent residence or to legalize their status.
  5. Become an American.  Now is a great time to file for naturalization. If you as an immigrant fear deportation, file your application for U.S. citizenship. The process is easy, fast and memorable.  American citizens are immune to any changes in the U.S. immigration laws plus as a naturalized American you can never be deported, you can petition many relatives for immigration benefits, you can travel more freely and you can vote. 

Los Angeles immigration attorney David M. Sturman will gladly answer all your questions and address your concerns for free. Call 818 714-2226 or email