The memos enact Trump’s controversial immigration policies
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly sent the memos this week, clearing the way for the promised crackdown on illegal immigration. Immigrant communities are bracing for mass deportations. Fear is widespread.
The memos lift nearly all restrictions on targeting the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally for removal (aka deportation). The new policy greatly expands the definition of “removable criminal alien” and calls for the detention of all removable aliens apprehended.
While immigration officers are directed to focus first on deporting convicted criminals or those charged with crimes, they are also freed to conduct more raids in immigrant communities and detain people who don’t have criminal convictions.
In addition to deporting those convicted of crimes and previously ordered deported, as under President Obama, immigration officials will now also target:
people in the country illegally who have been charged with crimes not yet adjudicated.
those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” That would include the 6 million people estimated to have entered without inspection (EWI).
those who receive an improper welfare benefit.
those who committed minor infractions such as driving without a license.
The new policy makes it clear that no class of unauthorized alien is exempt from deportation.
The new policies are effective immediately. The first targeted groups are likely to be the nearly 1 million people already ordered deported but still present in the US and aliens with felony convictions. The memos also call for the hiring of 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 border agents, as well as more detention facilities. The new policy also reinstates the Secure Communities program of cooperation between local police and DHS. The memos also call for the immediate building of a wall along the southern border.
The Trump administration will also expand who is eligible for "expedited removals", where someone in the U.S. illegally can be removed without appearing before an immigration judge. The Obama administration limited them to people caught within 100 miles of the border within two weeks of entering the country, while the Trump administration is seeking to expand that category to caught anywhere in the country within 2 years of entry. This will greatly expand the number of people removable without any due process rights.
The memos were silent on the fate of DACA (Dreamers) recipients, in the sense that they are not specifically targeted as other groups are. DHS continues to process DACA EADs.
The memos call on ICE to establish a National Lead Development Center for referral for prosecution on immigration fraud and benefits fraud cases. It also creates an office to assist victims of crime perpetrated by unlawful criminal aliens. The new policy seeks to return EWI persons to the point of entry (Mexico for southern border crossers), even for 3rd country nationals (non-Mexicans).
In summary, these memos realize the immigration crackdown that President Trump promised on the campaign trail. They mirror the Executive Orders of President Trump's first week in office. While shocking to the immigrant community-this is all to be expected.
We expect a surge in immigration enforcement activity to begin soon. We hope that our federal court system can keep the forces of fear and intolerance in check. Immigration is what makes America great, right now.