Immigration Enforcement: Q&A With Anna Marie Gallagher

By Tracy Schorn

February 10, 2017


Immigration has been one of the biggest headlines of the last few weeks, and on Thursday, February 16, the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program will tackle some of the issues head on in its course “Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions.” The course will provide an update on current enforcement priorities for noncitizens and explain the immigration consequences of certain criminal activities and convictions.

Anna Marie Gallagher, a shareholder at Maggio + Kattar and head of the firm’s immigration litigation practice, will lead the panel discussion. Gallagher has practiced immigration, refugee, and human rights law for close to three decades in the United States, Central America, and Europe.

The D.C. Bar spoke with Gallagher about recent developments in immigration enforcement, especially on the heels of President Trump’s executive order barring refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

What’s the biggest takeaway from this new executive order (on interior enforcement) for attorneys who represent noncitizens? 

Attorneys have to be as creative as possible in representing clients subject to removal and in devising strategies to protect those with final orders of removal. Attorneys across the United States are coming together to strategize on how best to do this, including slowing down processes before the Immigration Courts. It is no longer business as usual and there is a new sheriff in town. Immigration attorneys will be on the front lines in fighting for due process rights during these difficult times.

How does this differ from past enforcement priorities? 

Past enforcement priorities made sense. [The Department of Homeland Security] prioritized identifying and deporting those who posed a danger to the United States consistent with their resources. They chose to exercise their discretion to protect families and keep them united. That is no longer the case. While it will certainly take time to hire 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agents, ICE will focus on low-hanging fruit. They will identify and deport those who are in their radar, including people who have final orders of removal and are under what are called Orders of Supervision. These folks have to report to ICE as part of the order. Most are individuals who would not be priorities but for their deportation order. Most have U.S. citizen children and lawful permanent resident and U.S. citizen extended family members.

Additionally, the executive order on interior enforcement orders DHS to resume the Secure Communities program, which essentially deputizes local police to identify undocumented persons and turn them over to ICE. Enforcement will significantly increase as a result of this program.

Are noncitizens more vulnerable to arrest and deportation now? Could threat of arrest be used punitively, say, in the workplace? 

 Noncitizens are more vulnerable. If an undocumented individual is identified by ICE—regardless if they are a priority on the current list—he or she will be placed in deportation proceedings. Given the risk that noncitizens now face, it will be easier for nefarious employers to exploit workers.

In your opinion, is enforcement feasible given current resources? 

While it will take some time to put all of the suggested 15,000 new hires in place, local police will step in to help ICE in identifying undocumented persons and turning them over to ICE for deportation.


In addition to Gallagher, the course will feature as speakers Himedes Chicas of the Law Offices of Jezic & Moyse, LLC; Katie D’Adamo Guevara of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; and Rachel Jordan of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.

Other topics include: 

  • DHS’s expanded enforcement priorities as established in the executive order; 
  • The practicality of enforcement given current resources; 
  • The elements necessary to establish a conviction for immigration purposes and the crimes that can result in a noncitizen’s deportation, with a focus on crimes in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia; 
  • Possible post-conviction forms of relief to avoid deportation; and 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky and what defense counsel must do to comply with the Court's mandate in that case.

“Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions” takes place from 4 to 7:15 p.m. at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. 

Register for the in-person course or Webinar now!