COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump took a symbolic step aimed at his predecessor’s signature achievement on his first day in the Oval Office, directing federal agencies to take steps to “ease the burden of Obamacare.”
On Wednesday, Trump toughened immigration enforcement, signing orders to start construction of a border wall, expand authority to deport thousands, increase the number of detention cells and punish cities and states that refuse to cooperate.
His actions represent a major shift in the nation’s approach to immigration and an early indication that Trump plans to boldly reshape government as he promised on the campaign trail. He has shown few signs of letting up on his vow to dramatically limit the flow of people from other nations.
The president is also considering a flurry of additional orders that would temporarily ban all new refugees and narrow the openings for people traveling from Muslim-dominated countries.
“A nation without borders is not a nation,” Trump said to employees at the Department of Homeland Security. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders.”
The most immediate impact of Trump’s actions might be a vast increase in the number of people subject to detention and deportation. Trump’s orders call for an expansion of detention facilities holding asylum seekers and others awaiting immigration hearings.
It would end so-called catch-and-release practices that allow those migrants to remain at large if there is overcrowding or if they are mothers with children, unaccompanied minors or face a credible fear of persecution from their home countries.
Trump’s orders would also put a greater emphasis on deporting not only those convicted of crimes, but also people in the country illegally who were charged with crimes not yet adjudicated, those who receive an improper welfare benefit and even those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”
Michael A. Memoli, Brian Bennett and Noah Bierman of the Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS) contributed to this report.