The Department of Homeland Security issued two memos Tuesday morning that could expand the number of immigrants detained or deported as part the administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
The memos are intended to implement President Trump’s immigration actions from last month and enforce existing immigration law. CBS News’ Jeff Pegues previewed some of the memos’ details on Monday.
The memos don’t overturn the Obama 2012 immigration action that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has deferred deportations for people who came to the U.S. illegally as children and has provided work permits to more than 750,000 immigrants.
New policies aimed at stemming the flow of illegal immigration will be implemented, that will “facilitate the detection, apprehension, detention and removal” of undocumented immigrants “who have no lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States.”
One of the provisions suggests that individuals apprehended in the U.S. and deemed inadmissible would need to prove that they have been in the U.S. continuously for two years. Otherwise, they could be subject to expedited removal with no court proceeding. 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.
A DHS official said Tuesday that the administration does not have a certain numerical threshold for how many people they intend to deport and that they want to quash the idea of mass deportation, in order to calm communities. The officials said they are executing the laws passed by Congress, and that there are practical limitations to what DHS can do because it does not have the personnel, time and resources to go into communities and round up people.
The official said that the memos are not intended to spur mass roundups or mass deportations and that as Mr. Trump has said, the administration will focus on criminals and people who have been convicted. Despite those priorities, the official said that it doesn’t mean that everyone else is exempt from potential enforcement.
The memos also authorize the immediate return of undocumented Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border and direct the facilitation of faster deportation proceedings with a surge in the deployment of immigration judges and asylum officers.
The plan also attempts to deter the arrival of unaccompanied children who have come over the border to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America over the last three years. Under the new policies, their parents could be prosecuted if they are found to have paid smugglers to bring the children across the border.
More ICE agents, border patrol
The memos direct the government to hire 10,000 more agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and 5,000 more Border Patrol officers. They also direct the government to begin planning, designing and constructing a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
One of the memos says that Mr. Trump has directed the heads of all executive departments to identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect U.S. federal aid or assistance to the government of Mexico.