A lot depends on Trump's definition of ‘criminal’ and ‘immigrant’

By Kate Morrissey

As President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches, his hard-line supporters and the unauthorized immigrants he has pledged to oust are waiting to find out how Trump will define a group that he has often railed against — “criminal immigrants.”

Both words of that phrase raise questions about Trump’s main targets for immigration policy.

“Criminal” raises questions because while a person’s immigration status is considered a civil matter, anyone who crosses the border without permission could be charged with a misdemeanor, illegal entry. Anyone who does it twice could be charged with a felony, illegal re-entry. Some wonder whether Trump will increase prosecution of these offenses as part of his plan to deport criminals.

“Immigrant” raises questions because, while Trump’s supporters seem focused on unauthorized immigrants, those who are here legally — such as with a green card — can also commit crimes and be deported for it.

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