Donald Trump's Executive Orders

First Executive Orders On Immigration and Obamacare

Donald Trump signs an executive order
President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order surrounded by small business leaders in the Oval Office on Jan. 30, 2017. Getty Images News

President Donald Trump signed more than half a dozen executive orders in his first 10 days in the White House including a controversial crackdown on immigration from Muslim countries that he made a central part of his 2016 campaign. Trump even used his authority to issue executive orders on his first day on office, bypassing the legislative process even though he criticized President Barack Obama's use of the power as "major power grabs of authority."

Trump’s first executive orders blocked some refugees from entering the United States, expedited environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects, prevented executive branch employees from lobbying within five years of leaving their job or working for foreign countries, and began the process of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Trump's most controversial executive order, by far, imposed a temporary ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries - Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen - from entering the United States. "I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest," Trump wrote. That executive order, signed on Jan. 27, 2017, was met with protests around the world and legal challenges at home. 

Trump also issued a number of executive actions, which are not the same as executive orders. Executive actions are any informal proposals or moves by the president, or anything the president calls on Congress or his administration to do. Executive orders are legally binding directives from the president to federal administrative agencies.

These executive orders are published in the Federal Register, which tracks and published proposed and final regulations including proclamations by the president.

List of Donald Trump's First Executive Orders

Here's a list of the executive orders Trump issued soon after he took office.

  • Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal: Trump signed this executive order on Jan. 20, 2017, within hours of moving into the White House. The executive order did not repeal Obamacare, or even ask Congress to repeal Obama's signature legislative accomplishment, even though Trump promised during the campaign that "on day one of the Trump administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare." Trump's executive order on Obamacare only instructed federal agencies to uphold the law while also working to "minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" on American citizens and companies.
  • Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects: Trump signed this executive order on Jan. 24, 2017. The order requires the government "streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects," though Trump is vague on exactly how the order should be carried out. Trump's order does require the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to determine whether a project is a "high priority," and subject to fast-tracking, in 30 days or less. 
  • Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States: Trump signed this executive order on Jan. 25, 2017. It cuts off federal money to so-called sanctuary cities, municipalities that do not enforce immigration laws. "Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic," Trump wrote. The order also expanded the definition of undocumented immigration the government could deport.
  • Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements: Trump signed this executive order on Jan. 25, 2017, in a first step at fulfilling his campaign pledge to build a wall along the United States border with Mexico. "It is the policy of the executive branch to secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism," Trump wrote. The order did not, however, spell out a mechanism to pay for the wall, although Trump said a tax on imports from Mexico os 20 percent could be among a "buffet" of options.
  • Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States: Trump signed this executive order, by far his most controversial, on Jan. 27. "In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law," Trump wrote. The ban on immigrants from seven countries was to last 90 days. The ban on refugees was to last for 120 days.
  • Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees: Trump signed this order on Jan. 28, 2017. The orders requires executive branch employees to sign an ethic policy that bans them from lobbying their agency for at least five years after leaving the government. It also prohibits them from working on behalf of a foreign government or foreign political party, and accepting gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying organizations.
  • Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs: Trump signed this order on Jan. 30, 2017. This order requires the federal government to eliminate two regulations for every one new regulation issued. “If you have a regulation you want, No. 1, we’re not gonna approve it because it’s already been approved probably in 17 different forms. But if we do, the only way you have a chance is we have to knock out two regulations for every new regulation. So if there’s a new regulation, they have to knock out two," Trump said while signing the executive order. The order states that the cost of imposing and enforcing new regulations must not add spending to the federal budget, essentially requiring the elimination of older regulations.    

Trump Criticism of Executive Orders

Trump made use of executive orders even though he criticized Obama's use of them. In July 2012, for example, Trump used Twitter, a favorite social media tool of his, to knock the president: “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?”

But Trump didn’t go so far as to say he would decline the use of executive orders for himself, saying Obama “led the way.” "I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things," Trump said in January 2016, adding that his executive orders would be for the “right things.” “I’m going to use them much better and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than he’s done,” he said.

Trump actually promised on the campaign trail that he would use his authority to issue executive orders on some issues. In December 2015, Trump promised he would impose the death penalty on anyone convicted of killing a police officer via executive order. "One of the first things I do, in terms of executive order if I win, will be to sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country - out to the world - that anybody killing a policeman, policewoman, a police officer - anybody killing a police officer, the death penalty. It's going to happen, OK?" Trump said at the time.