Homeland Security's memos detail 'aggressive' guidelines to carry out Trump's immigration plans

Miranda GreerFeb 22, 2017

The White House insists the memos are not final and the administration will make changes, but they demonstrate how Homeland Security is looking to put into practice President Donald Trump's newly aggressive immigration policies.

The directives would also instruct Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, to begin reviving a program that recruits local police officers and sheriff's deputies to help with deportation, effectively making them de facto immigration agents.

Immigrant rights groups immediately blasted the news Tuesday as a mass-deportation campaign that goes against stated promises to only concentrate on criminal aliens.

The memos undo Obama administration guidelines that told DHS and Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents to prioritize the deportation of those who'd committed serious crimes or are national security threats, as well as those who recently entered the country. The memos expand the period of expedited removal from two weeks to two years after people enter the country, and eliminate a requirement that they were within 100 miles of the border.

While Mr Obama aggressively enforced immigration law and ramped up deportations in some areas and at some times, there were notable instances where he de-emphasised action.

A second memo called for the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and ordered an end of "catch and release" policies that allowed undocumented immigrants at the border "to abscond and fail to appear at their removal hearings".

"ICE will not exempt classes or categories of [removable] aliens from potential enforcement", the DHS said in a statement. The proposal has been included in a draft document that leaked, and was later dismissed by White House officials as inaccurate.

Kelly ordered funds to be reallocated from programs providing resources for undocumented immigrants to a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office in a second memorandum. Under the new policies, their parents in the United States could be prosecuted if they paid smugglers to bring the children across the border. And they said the secretary has written the memos to abide by federal immigration laws established by Congress.

Kelly said that the January 27 order, which has been halted by a court challenge, was designed as a "temporary pause" to allow him to "see where our immigration and vetting system has gaps". Whereas Trump had been ardent about removing the convicted criminals from America, the plans for implementation threaten a vast majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

As justification for the measures, the memos cite an uptick of apprehensions at the southern border that has "significantly strained DHS resources", as well as a backlog of 534,000 pending immigration cases across the country.

According to the same source, under the changes about to be imposed, if someone cannot prove they have lived in the United States for two continuous years, they could be eligible for "expedited removal".

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