Trump’s order provides ammunition for litigants in family law matters

This article is sponsored by Shoun Bach

By: Thomas Velarde

On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (“Trump’s Order”).  This Executive Order allows individuals to be deported for a variety of reasons for which they were previously not deportable.  Trump’s Order will directly impact family law matters related to domestic violence, child custody, child support, and spousal support, as aliens may be deported before, during, or after such proceedings.

Deportation Under President Donald J. Trump

President Trump’s Order states that aliens should be deported for having committed, attempted, or conspired to commit certain acts.  Aliens can be deported for acts of terrorism, crimes of dishonesty, felonies, drug activity, treason, abuse of their families, espionage, sabotage, failing to register as a sex offender, owning, purchasing, selling, or possessing a firearm, certain illegal immigration activities, and certain violations of human rights.

Trump’s Order also states that aliens can be deported for the following: conviction of any criminal offense; being charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved; committing acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; engaging in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with an official matter or application to a government agency; having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; being subjected to an order of removal but not yet having been deported; and if in the judgement of an immigration officer, the alien poses a risk to public safety or national security.

Examples of conduct that can result in deportation under Trump’s Order include: obtaining Medicare, SNAP, WIC, or any other government program benefit fraudulently, or misrepresenting a fact in any government form; using someone else’s social security number to work; and being subject to a removal order but remaining in the country.

Unlike under President Obama, under Trump’s Order, speeding, DUI, drunk in public, and many other offenses can result in deportation.  Further, no conviction is required.  Rather, to be deportable, an alien simply must have committed or been charged with the act.

Even non-criminal conduct can result in deportation—merely admitting to abusing drugs or being a drug addict can result in deportation.  In addition, if an immigration officer subjectively judges that an alien is a risk to the United States, that alien can be deported.

Trump’s Order Impacts Family Law

By greatly expanding the conduct that can result in deportation, Trump’s Order creates potential new weapons in the legal world of family law.  With a whole new group of people subject to possible deportation, dealing with the issues of domestic violence, child custody, child support, and spousal support could be more difficult.

For example, people threaten to have their alien partners deported as a way of controlling them in domestic violence situations.  Now, that threat is a more credible.  The same threat could be used by a citizen who has children with or is married to an alien to gain advantage in a divorce, custody or support proceedings.

Trump’s Order could also directly impact how child support and spousal support is collected.  A person who has a child or is married to an alien could threaten to deport the alien if he or she tries to collect support from him or her.  Although an alien can be ordered to pay support, the order generally will be unenforceable internationally.  Therefore, if a debtor spouse or parent is deported, his or her obligation to pay for his or her family goes with them over the border.


Trump’s Order greatly increases the ways in which an individual can be deported.  This provides ammunition for citizens litigating against aliens in family law matters.  The impact of Trump’s Order is being felt already, right here in our backyard.  Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart has requested that aliens arrested in his county, but who have not been convicted of any crime, be deported.[1]  Deportation of aliens before, during, or after the administration of justice for family law cases in courts looks like it is becoming less of a boogeyman and more a real specter.


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