While tens of thousands of people were flooding the streets to protest immigration raids across the United States, some federal officials were busy drafting orders to expand the government’s power to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, both living inside the country and on the border.
The leaked memos, signed by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, detail how President Donald Trump’s administration seeks to come through on two of its most prominent (read: controversial) campaign promises: building a “big, beautiful” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deporting “2 to 3 million” unauthorized immigrants.
The drafts, obtained and analyzed by several news outlets including The Washington Post and NBC, would not only make it easier for authorities to detain immigrants, it would also repeal almost all of the Obama administration policies that only centered on deporting serious criminals with ties to terrorism.
“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated, citing 10,000 to 15,000 additional apprehensions per month between 2015 and 2016.
Currently awaiting White House confirmation, here is the breakdown of what the leaked DHS memos entail.
Disclaimer: These are unverified drafts. Though the officials have not disputed their authenticity, they have stressed the final version might be different.
Expedited removal process
Currently, Border Patrol agents and officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can expedite the removal process for detained individuals who have been in the country for less than two weeks — or 14 days, to be precise.
However, if approved, the new regulations would sanction the same procedure for those who have been in the country for up to two years.
Criminally prosecute the parents
The authorities will criminally prosecute the immigrants who pay smugglers and human traffickers to bring their children illegally into the U.S.
“Many of these children fall victim to robbery, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault and other crimes of violence by the smugglers and other criminal elements along the dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States,” read the memo.
Hiring more federal agents
One of the documents directs the Border Patrol agency to hire 5,000 additional agents while ICE would make 10,000 additional personnel “as well as operational and mission support and legal staff necessary to hire and support their activities.”
Air & Marine Agents will hire 500 officers.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
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 currently unknown.
The leaked drafts appear to exempt the DACA recipients, but since nothing is yet final, this could sadly change.
“The DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me, because, you know, I love these kids,” Trump said during a recent news conference. “I love kids. I have kids and grandkids. And I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do. And you know the law is rough.”
Tougher screening process
The order would give immigration officers more leeway to interpret if the applicant does have “credible fear” of persecution if returned home.
This would not only give officials extra power to determine who gets to stay and who does not, but would also make things much more difficult for immigrants who already face enough bias and prejudice.
As for those caught crossing the border, they would be immediately sent back while their deportation hearings are pending.
That hope is all but gone. The border security memo mentions Honduran, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan kids coming without pretending to care why— Tom Jawetz (@TomJawetz) February 19, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters