Homeland secretary OKs deportation, border enforcement changes

Kerry Wise
February 22, 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly unveiled new policies on Tuesday that are aimed at detaining and deporting more immigrants in the USA illegally.

The memos came in the wake of two executive orders signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in late January aimed at enhancing border security and restricting illegal immigrants across the country.

Further, in one of the more controversial stipulations, the memos state that parents who help children enter the US illegally could be subject to deportation or criminal prosecution.

Following orders from the Trump White House, the Department of Homeland Security is implementing sweeping changes to the way it captures and deports undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Under Trump, expedited removal is being expanded to include people who've been in the country for up to two years and who've been apprehended anywhere.

The Obama administration made a point of prioritizing those with criminal histories for deportation.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, center, accompanied by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan, right, and a member of his security detail, attends a news conference at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters.

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. The proposal has been included in a draft document that leaked, and was later dismissed by White House officials as inaccurate.

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The crackdown strategy notably leaves in place the Obama administration's policy for "dreamers" brought here illegally when they were children.

Kelly's directive on border patrol focuses on a proposed U.S. -Mexico border wall as a necessary tool to "deter and prevent" illegal entry of immigrants.

Immigrants who are caught crossing the border from Mexico will be immediately sent back to the country while their deportation hearings are pending.

The second memo is directed at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and instructs officers to crack down on illegal immigration at the borders by detaining migrants until their case is heard. Currently, only migrants apprehended near the border who can not show they have been in the country more than 14 days are subject to rapid removal.

But Kelly said these relationships with "willing and qualified" state and local law enforcement agencies are crucial to the successful enforcement of immigration policies. Not mentioned in either of the documents is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which effectively gave reprieve to illegal immigrant children already in the United States illegally.

Kelly ordered immediate action to begin planning and building a wall along the United States southern border with Mexico.

All this will require more money and manpower - and the Trump administration is going to ask Congress for the former and go on a hiring spree to address the latter.