Deportation priorities will expand to include those convicted of even minor crimes
- Author: Adam Floyd Feb 22, 2017,
Feb 22, 2017, 0:54
The Department of Homeland Security issued new directives Tuesday to increase deportations among the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memos, signed by Secretary John Kelly, lay out that any immigrant living in the USA illegally who has been charged or convicted of any crime - and even those suspected of a crime - will now be an enforcement priority.
Donald Trump's immigration order marks a sharp break with those policies.
The memos also detail plans to expand expedited removals.
During his eight years in office, Barack Obama instructed USA immigration officials to focus deportation efforts on undocumented migrants who were convicted of serious crimes or recent arrivals captured near the U.S. border.
The measure is meant to discourage Central American children who make the often-dangerous trek into the country.
In recent years, the USA has seen a dramatic uptick in those attempting to flee violence in the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, including children.
One plan is to immediately return home Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border pending the outcomes of their deportation hearings, rather than house them on US property.
But the memos argue the system is being abused.More news: Sergio Ramos: A 'dream' to reach 500 games for Real Madrid
One of the provisions suggests that individuals apprehended in the US and deemed inadmissible would need to prove that they have been in the USA continuously for two years.
He described the wall as necessary to deter illegal immigration and called it a "critical component" of Mr Trump's overall border security strategy.
"Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officers has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws", one document states.
The memos do not specify how much implementing the new policies will cost or how DHS intends to pay for the expanded enforcement plans. In recent years, many undocumented immigrants entering the country were released and ordered to reappear for court hearings, known as "catch and release".
Another action, which directs the expansion of "detention capabilities and capacities at or near the border", sounds like it could spark a building boom.
Lawmakers would also need to give the federal government more money to build the wall, which is estimated at roughly $20 billion.
Immigrant rights advocates told the Post that the two memos signed by Kelly mark a major shift in USA immigration policies by dramatically expanding the scope of enforcement operations. But there are several hitches: Under worldwide law, the USA can't deport someone who is eligible for asylum, said William Holston Jr., executive director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, a group that helps victims of violence from around the world.
Those actions would also have been counter to Obama-era enforcement regulations, which were rendered void by Tuesday's memos.
In this photo taken February 7, 2017, released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arrest is made during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles.
The ICE memo also states that immigrants will not be afforded rights under USA privacy laws.