DHS memo calls for 15k new border agents, faster deports

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two memos Tuesday that spell out plans to toughen how the agency handles border security and enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The memos are meant to explain the earlier presidential executive order on immigration policy that was overshadowed by the brouhaha over the travel ban and the Trump-induced preoccupation with border-wall construction.

Under Kelly's orders, which were contained in two memorandums distributed to agency heads on Friday, hundreds of thousands more immigrants in the United States illegally will be subject to what's known as expedited removal proceedings to quickly get them out of the country.

The new policies were designed "to stem illegal immigration and facilitate the detection, apprehension, detention and removal of aliens who have no lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States", said a document titled "Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies".

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday released details on how it will prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants.

The memos end Obama's policy of "catch and release" of immigrants crossing illegally into the USA, saying that the feds should "use our detention authority to detain folks". The previous policy authorized expedited removal for undocumented immigrants found within 100 air miles of the border and within 14 days after entering the country.

"Virtually every immigrant is now a priority for detention and deportation".

Trump's call for more border patrol and ICE agents could also take a while to materialize.

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"Effective immediately", the document read, "department personnel shall faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States against all removable aliens".

An unnamed White House official said the memos were drafts and that they are under review by the White House Counsel's Office, which is seeking some changes, the Post reported.

While a memo explicitly states there is no protected class of immigrants, the status of DREAMErs - the young, educated immigrants protected under former President Barack Obama's DACA program - is now unknown. Recruiting local law enforcement to help persecute illegal immigrants would also result in widespread violations of civil liberties, he said. Under DHS' new guidelines in the memos, parents of unaccompanied minors living in the USA would be prosecuted if they paid human smugglers to help their children cross the border.

He described the wall as necessary to deter illegal immigration and called it a "critical component" of Mr Trump's overall border security strategy.

"These memos lay out a detailed blueprint for the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants in America". But most local agencies restrict their officers from inquiring about immigration status during routine stops.

Kelly said that the January 27 order, which has been halted by a court challenge, was designed as a "temporary pause" to allow him to "see where our immigration and vetting system has gaps".

According to the same source, under the changes about to be imposed, if someone cannot prove they have lived in the U.S. for two continuous years, they could be eligible for "expedited removal".

  • Sonia Alvarado