22 February, 2017
US President Donald Trump's top homeland security official has signed two orders that could expand the number of undocumented immigrants who could be stopped and deported, according to documents seen by Reuters and first reported by McClatchy news organization.
Federal law enforcement agencies-including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-have been instructed to immediately detain and deport all migrants caught entering the country, while also calling for the expedited removal of people who have been in the US for up to two years, anywhere in the country.
Such deportations, which were limited by the Obama administration to people caught within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of entering, now include people caught anywhere in the country within two years of arriving illegally.
New policies aimed at stemming the flow of illegal immigration will be implemented, that will "facilitate the detection, apprehension, detention and removal" of undocumented immigrants "who have no lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States".
The memos also detail plans to expand expedited removals.
He also ordered the hiring of another 5,000 officers for the Customs and Border Protection agency and 10,000 for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
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 memos were a draft order and still being reviewed by the White House, according to the Associated Press.
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But the plan leaves in place Obama-era protections for immigrants who entered the USA illegally as children.
"Empowering state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law is critical to an effective enforcement strategy, and CBP and ICE will work with interested and eligible jurisdictions", the memo reads.
The order from DHS does leave what's known as "DACA" intact, which gives protection to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S.as children.
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 DHS' new guidelines in the memos, parents of unaccompanied minors living in the US would be prosecuted if they paid human smugglers to help their children cross the border.
Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, blasted the new policy.
He described the wall as necessary to deter illegal immigration and called it a "critical component" of Mr Trump's overall border security strategy. Now, the expedited removal process can be used for those in any part of the country illegally for up to two years. The Legislature is now debating a bill to outlaw "sanctuary" jurisdictions in Texas, the term commonly assigned to local entities that don't enforce immigration laws or hand over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.