Trump’s Immigration Guidance: Dreamers and Parents of U.S. Citizens Are Safe for Now; Most Others Must Go

By Susan Jones | February 21, 2017 | 11:26am EST
President Trump's Homeland Security Department released new guidance on enforcing the nation's immigration laws on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (AP File Photo)

( - Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly on Tuesday released two memoranda, explaining how the Trump administration plans to implement the president's executive orders designed to “stem illegal immigration” and remove illegal aliens “who have no lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States.”

Notably, the new guidance exempts, for the time being, the 750,000 “dreamers” who came to this country as children and who received temporary legal status under President Obama Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

In fact, Kelly rescinded all previous immigration directives and guidance -- except for Obama's 2012 DACA guidance dealing with individuals who came to the U.S. as children; and the 2014 memo dealing with certain individuals who are the parents  of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The first memo implements President Trump’s executive order on "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements."

In this document, Secretary Kelly directs the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to “immediately being the process of hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents” as well as 500 Air & Marine Agents/Officers. (The second memo directs Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to “expeditiously” hire 10,000 officers and agents.)

In another manpower boost, DHS is expanding the 287(g) program. This program allows DHS to authorize qualified law enforcement officers to “perform the functions of an immigration officer” when encountering illegal aliens. (The memo notes that from January 2006 through September 2015, the 287(g) Program led to the identification of more than 402,000 removable aliens, primarily through encounters at local jails.)

The policy memo also:

-- Commissions an “immediate, comprehensive” study of border security.

-- Directs CBP and other relevant agencies to “immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall, including the attendant lighting, technology (including sensors), as well as patrol and access roads, along the land border with Mexico in accordance with existing law,” and “in the most appropriate locations.” (The memo says the wall construction must use “materials originating in the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.”)

-- Expands expedited removal of aliens apprehended at the border, who have been ordered removed from the United States.

-- Orders the detention of aliens apprehended at the border, pending their removal hearings. “Accordingly, the Director of ICE and the Commissioner of CBP should take all necessary action and allocate all available resources to expand their detention capabilities and capacities at or near the border with Mexico to the greatest extent practicable.”

-- Requires immigration and border agencies to develop “uniform written guidance and training for all employees and contractors” that process unaccompanied alien children, including the timely and fair adjudication of their claims, and – if appropriate -- their safe repatriation at the conclusion of removal proceedings.

-- Prioritizes criminal prosecutions for organized criminal activity in the border region.

-- Requires transparent, public reporting of border apprehensions data, including: the number of convicted criminals and the nature of their offenses; the prevalence of gang members and prior immigration violators; the custody status of aliens and, if released, the reason for release and location of that release; and the number of aliens ordered removed and those aliens physically removed.

The second memo deals with "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

DHS personnel are directed to prioritize removable aliens who: (1) have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; ( 4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

Noting that “criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents,” DHS is establishing a “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office within ICE, to provide crime victims’ families “information about the offender, including the offender's immigration status and custody status.”

This memorandum also sets up programs to collect civil fines and penalties “from aliens and from those who facilitate their unlawful presence in the United States.”

And DHS “will no longer afford Privacy Act rights and protections to persons who are neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents.”

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