The Trump Administration widened the guidelines for deportation of illegal immigrants from the U.S. on Tuesday.
The guidelines instruct agents to target illegal immigrants who commit traffic violations and shoplift, along with the illegal immigrants already targeted for more heinous crimes.
The directives don’t alter any existing immigration law, they just order deportation officials to apply existing laws more than the previous administration had. While Obama deported more illegals than any other president, he also took many steps to halt deportation, not fully enforcing the extent of deportation law.
These actions set the stage for possible mass deportation, which was an early staple of Trump’s primary campaign. Trump even called for a “deportation force” that he would create to remove undocumented immigrants en masse, while noting that his administration would do so humanely. Trump notably shifted his tone on mass deportation back in June of last year, however, early in the general election campaign against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. These new actions signal that he may have shifted back to keeping his earlier promise.
The two directives released on Tuesday also allow Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport people immediately under certain conditions.
During the Obama presidency, expedited removals were enforced in cases where illegal immigrants had only resided within the country for 14 days or less and were within 100 miles of the border. Under the new orders, agents are allowed to expedite deportations for illegal immigrants anywhere in the United States who are not able to prove they have resided in the country for more than two years.
According to BBC priorities for deportation include:
- “Expanding deportations to undocumented immigrants who have been charged with a crime, misrepresented themselves, pose a risk to public safety, or “have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits” – effectively allowing agents to arrest any illegal immigrant they encounter
- Ending US policy to release those caught on the border and instead placing them into detention centres until their cases are resolved
- Calling for authorities to prosecute parents who help smuggle their children into the country
- Allowing plans to begin on an expansion of the border wall along the US southern border
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated today that the goal of the Trump Administration is not to implement mass deportation policies.
“The message from this White House and from the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go and we will aggressively be making sure that that occurs,” Spicer said about the guidelines. “That is what the priority is.”
However, the list of “removable aliens” compiled by the Department of Homeland Security is very broad, and only clearly leaves out illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children. There are currently 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security plans on hiring 10,000 more immigration agents, and 5,000 more border patrol officers in order to enforce these new directives.
Photo Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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