Los Angeles Times:
By Del Quentin Wilber and Brian Bennett
February 21, 2017
Immigration enforcement officers are free to target any of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally for removal, the Trump administration said Tuesday, a vast expansion of the federal government's deportation priorities as the president pursues his promised crackdown on illegal immigration.
The new guidelines , in two memos issued by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, also call for the hiring of thousands more enforcement agents as the agency moves to implement President Trump's executive order on immigration issued during his first week in office.
"All of those in violation of immigration law may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," the department wrote on its website.
Though the guidelines emphasized that authorities should focus on convicted criminals or those charged with crimes, immigration groups reacted with alarm to what they described a radical shift in policy and enforcement tactics.
“These memos lay out a detailed blueprint for the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants in America," said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice Education Fund, an advocacy group. "These memos amount to an instruction manual for the coast-to-coast, fast-track deportation of everyone in the United States without papers, no matter how long they’ve been here, how strong their family ties, and how much they contribute."
Under the Obama administration, officials took a far less aggressive stance on immigration, despite deporting a record number of migrants, by focusing on those who were either convicted of multiple offenses or had repeatedly entered the country illegally.
The memos did not specify how the Trump administration plans to deal with 750,000 so-called Dreamers, migrants brought to the country illegally as children and granted work permits, a key Obama administration program.
Trump has publicly wavered on whether to deport the Dreamers, and the White House has identified ways to remove them from the U.S. without Trump's fingerprints.
The instructions also expand so-called expedited deportations, under which someone who is in the U.S. illegally is detained and thrown out without appearing before an immigration judge. 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.
In addition, the guidelines call for hiring 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents and for the immediate planning and building of a wall along the southern border, all of which Trump ordered earlier.
Those steps would require additional funds from Congress, and it is unclear whether Republican lawmakers will sign off on them.
Kelly's memos also called for the expansion of a program in which local police help capture those violating immigration laws.
Homeland Security will also establish an office to assist those who are victims of crimes committed by those in the country illegally, according to the memos.
Trump administration officials said they were fulfilling the pledge of the president who promised more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws and are also reacting in response to a spike of illegal border crossings.
"A surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States," Kelly wrote in one of the memos, adding that immigration courts are experiencing "a historic backlog of removal cases."
In October and November, the Obama administration apprehended more than 90,000 immigrants along the southern border, an increase of about 42% over the same period in 2015, according to Kelly.
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