The Department of Homeland Security released two memos Tuesday that expound on President Donald Trump’s executive orders concerning border security that call for stricter enforcement of immigration laws and for the hiring of more agents.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s memos to the heads of various agencies set into motion sweeping new guidelines that affect undocumented immigrants in the US.
Here are a few of the most notable directives:
— Hiring: The memos calls for the hiring of an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 “officers and agents” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
— Catch-and-release: Unofficially known as “catch-and-release,” the DHS memo seeks to end the practice of granting an undocumented immigrant parole while they await court proceedings. The memo states detention during this time is preferred, potentially resulting in a large increase in the number of people detained at facilities around the country. “Such policies, collectively referred to as ‘catch-and-release,’ shall end,” the memo reads.
— Expanded expedited removal proceedings: The memos expand the use of “expedited removal” of any undocumented immigrant who cannot prove “to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been continuously physically present in the United States for the two-year period.” Prior to this, such a removal was only allowed in circumstances where undocumented immigrants were “encountered within 100 air miles of the border and 14 days of entry.”
— Border Wall Construction: One memo calls for the CBP to “immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall” along the souther US border with Mexico.
— Asylum Seekers: Asylum officers, when establishing the “credible fear” claim of the asylee, can now “consider the statements of the alien and determine the credibility of the alien’s statements made in
support of his or her claim and shall consider other facts known to the officer.”
— Unaccompanied Minors: The directives also seeks to change the classification of “unaccompanied alien child” protections due to what the DHS calls an “exploitation of that policy led to abuses” when the minors were reunited with undocumented immigrants already in the US.
Notably absent from the memos are any changes to former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for undocumented immigrants (also known as DREAMers) who came into the US as a child to defer deportation, among other protections.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer and adjunct professor at Cornell Law School who has written a 21-volume treatise on immigration law, said the memo would result in a large increase in the number of people detained and deported.
“But it may not happen as fast as people think. Immigrants already have to wait an average of 2.5 years to have a hearing before an immigration judge. Unless the administration finds funding to hire more immigration judges, those backlogs will skyrocket,” Yale-Loehr said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “Congress also needs to find money to hire more Border Patrol and immigration enforcement personnel to carry out the executive orders.”
At the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the memos “are focused on people who are in this country and what we need to do on our southern border to facilitate the building of the wall that he [President Trump] has talked about.”
Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement that the memos “confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities, and even protections for vulnerable children, in pursuit of a hyper-aggressive mass deportation policy.”
“President Trump does not have the last word here — the courts and the public will not allow this un-American dream to become reality,” he added.