US Homeland Security Directives Outline Aggressive Immigration Enforcement
By Aline Barros February 21, 2017
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued two new memos outlining the implementation of President Donald Trump's executive orders to stop illegal immigration while deporting undocumented immigrants out of the U.S.
The documents, issued Tuesday by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, expand the priority list for immigrants who face immediate removal, summarize a plan to hire thousands of enforcement agents, and assign local authorities to act as immigration officers to apply immigration laws.
"Effective immediately," the document read, "department personnel shall faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States against all removable aliens."
The memos, first leaked to the media on Friday, have only one exception: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients – immigrants who came to the United States at a young age and have been protected under a program established by former President Barack Obama.
Approximately 750,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age – known as "dreamers" – depend on the program to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
Trump told the media during a news conference last week he plans to deal with DACA "with heart," a subject he called "very, very tough."
"You have some absolutely incredible kids, I would say mostly," Trump said. "I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do, and you know the law is rough."
Tuesday's memos are a direct interpretation of the January 25 immigration executive orders signed by Trump.
Kelly's directive on border patrol focuses on a proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall as a necessary tool to "deter and prevent" illegal entry of immigrants.
Immigrants' rights advocates say new immigration policies of the Trump administration are intent on inflicting cruelty on millions of immigrant families across the country.
"Virtually every immigrant is now a priority for detention and deportation. Immigration and border agents will increase dramatically in number and are empowered to operate unfettered," Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel, has shared in a statement.
"State and local law enforcement agencies, including those with records of racial profiling and police brutality, are encouraged to become immigration agents," said Lin.
The DHS memos are different from Trump's reported new executive order to ban travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. The original order has been blocked by federal courts, and a newly written order is expected this week.
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