WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 23: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump shows the Executive Order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017. The other two Executive Orders concerned a US Government hiring freeze for all departments but the military, and “Mexico City” which bans federal funding of abortions overseas. (Photo by Ron Sachs – Pool/Getty Images)


Signed January 20th: “Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal

The first section of the document is one that states the repeal of Obamacare (also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), but that until the ultimate repeal it must be enforced. The repeal would eliminate insurance for approximately 20 million Americans according to a March 2016 press release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In section two, the order goes on to place responsibility in the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to see if any business would then have to possibly pay more under the repeal and make exceptions to the repeal as needed to account for this. Basically, it is the job of the Secretary to ensure that no healthcare business is burdened, and if so, to somehow fix it. This Secretary of Health and Human Services was Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who served since 2014 under Obama, before Trump elected Tom Price for the position. How Tom Price will go about protecting businesses against the Obamacare repeal remains unclear.

Section three of the order stresses the cooperation of federal and state government to offer healthcare. Section four encourages an open healthcare market. And finally, section five states that the order has no interference with new budgets.

All in all, the order is vague and, standing alone, does not change any law. Further actions by the Trump administration may paint a clearer picture, but until then there is merely tension in the atmosphere.


Signed January 24th: “Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects

Section one of the order claims that certain agency processes prevent the quick creation of new American infrastructure, which hurts jobs and other aspects of American life. Therefore the order hopes to streamline the creation of high-priority infrastructure by speeding up environmental reviews. This section does not define what that process looks like, however with Trump’s stance on government environmental agencies based on past actions, one can only wonder.

Section two goes on to describe the process of how governments will select which infrastructure projects are high-priority and which are not. This is by governor or agency request, which then visits the desk of the Chairman on Environmental Quality, who will make the choice. Nancy Sutley was appointed by Obama in 2009 as Chairwoman. It is also important to note that the Council on Environmental Quality was one of the pages that went dark after Trump’s inauguration, with some on social media saying that the site was down for archiving purposes and others refuting the claim as under Bush and Obama’s inaugurations, archiving did not take so long.

Later, section three states that the Chairman shall then decide on new procedures so that the infrastructure may be completed faster. If deadlines are missed, they are to be explained. This is self-explanatory and is another process that no one truly knows what will look like as it is up to the Chairman’s discretion. Section four is again the standard phrasing at the end of every order outlining its limitations


Signed January 25th: “Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements

    Section one covers the potentail dangers of “illegal aliens” and calls for the deployment of all legal means to the U.S. and Mexico border to stop the “immigration problem.” The demonization of immigrants was a large component of Trump’s presidential campaign, with his claiming that immigrants are likely to cause crime (which in a New York Times report is not true at all).

        Following this, section two is the famous order for the immediate construction of a border wall with Mexico. It also covers the detention of immigrants suspected of violating any law until they undergo further legal proceedings, speeding up asylum processes, fast deportation of those not fit for asylum, and promoting partnership between federal and state governments to enforce immigration law. Those were lots of words that mean the use of $12-25 billion on the construction of a wall that will cost, when broken down, $120 per household. It is important to keep in mind that a 650-mile wall with Mexico already exists and would more than likely hinder construction of another wall due to its location. The detention of citizens until trial is also based in suspicion, which could overcrowd detention facilities. In an interview, Trump claimed he never heard of this issue.

        After that wordy piece, section three then defines terms like “wall” and “regulations” for legal purposes.

        Next, the fourth section states that the Secretary (not defined in this section or the section prior) shall design the wall and oversee its immediate construction, allocate funds for this purpose, as well as produce a report on the security of the southern border within 180 days of the order’s signing. Homeland Security published a 2015 report that detailed the number of people detained at multiple points along the border, but no evidence was found to suggest a more recent report on border security.

        The fifth section takes a slightly ironic turn given the previously-stated denial of existence and talks about detention facilities and how more will be made.  Asylum officers will be added to each one, and the assignment of judges to immigration cases will also become priority according to this section. If you have any data about old numbers of judges and officer, please share in the comments below so that readers can have an idea as to why Trump felt the need to include the clause here.

        Section six continues the order and denounces the “catch and release” policy of previous years where migrants get released in the U.S. after being apprehended for violating immigrant law as well as a promise that employees under the Department of Homeland Security will be informed about these detentions. Catch and release was re-implemented by Obama because migrants kept missing their court dates for various reasons, and he did not want to clog the court system. This also ensured that Border Patrol was in fact focusing on the border and not on the court process.

        Following this, sections seven and eight announce that individuals will be sent back to their source countries and that five thousand more Border Patrol officers shall be hired in addition to the twenty-one thousand already there according to a 2011 Politifact article. Again, if you see more updated information, please share in the comments section.

        Then section nine requires that each executive agency has thirty days to send a report of how much aid they have sent to the Mexican government in the past five years to the Secretary of state (Exxonmobil chief executive Rex Tillerson), who then has another thirty days to give a report to the President. To what effect this is meant to achieve is, overall, unclear. However in the past Trump has talked about at foreign-aid reduction before.

        Section ten permits state governments to hire more immigration officers as each state sees fit in addition to the federal working agents for increased speed and monitoring of the border as a whole. This will look different in each distinct border state as it is up to state discretion.

        The eleventh section serves to keep parole violations from happening as well as, essentially, making sure officers correctly grant asylum. This section also ensures the safety of migrant children as in compliance with the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.

        Section twelve then allows for officers to be able to go on any federal land and do whatever they need to do to uphold these laws, which is extremely vague and leaves room for a legal gray area that contains whatever an officer may deem “necessary” under any condition.

        The thirteenth section continues and states that the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) must create prosecution guidelines so that any cases with any relation to Mexico take priority. This is significant in a system where the backlog has surpassed one hundred thousand in the family case branch alone.

        Finally sections fourteen through sixteen call for monthly reporting on the number of migrants, mandate progress reports from the Secretary and the Attorney General on achievement of these goals, and allow for the hiring of any people needed to accomplish these tasks. The migrant report has already been called upon by critics as violation of undocumented migrants’ right to privacy.

        Section seventeen, as the last section always does, addresses the limitations of the order.