President Donald Trump just massively expanded the number of illegal aliens that Immigration Customs and Enforcement officers are allowed to target for deportation, all but negating former President Obama’s scaled-back enforcement priorities and ramping up measures to increase border security along with deportations.
Whereas Obama’s immigration mandate instructed ICE officers to remove only those illegal aliens who’d recently crossed the border, those who’d been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors, and any alien deemed a threat to national security, Trump’s new order explicitly states:
Except as specifically noted above, the Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. In faithfully executing the immigration laws, Department personnel should take enforcement actions in accordance with applicable law.
Instead, the new administration will focus on deporting any illegal alien who’s been convicted or even charged with committing a crime. Immigration officers are now free to arrest illegal aliens who’ve been issued final orders of removal, those who are affiliated with gangs, anyone who has fraudulently represented themselves to the government, and any alien who has “committed acts with constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”
The new memorandum, issued Monday by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, states:
Additionally, regardless of the basis of removability, Department personnel should prioritize removable aliens who: (I) 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.
Kelly’s memorandum adds the Trump administration will immediately begin hiring 10,000 new immigration officers and 5,000 new border agents to better enhance border security and enforce the nation’s immigration laws.
The Trump administration's new border security memorandum, issued separately from its new guidance on enforcement priorities, adds the federal government will begin defining "unaccompanied alien children" in accordance with federal immigration law, contrary to the method employed by the Obama administration.
An unaccompanied alien child, as defined in section 279(g)(2), Title 6, United States Code, is an alien who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, has not attained 18 years of age; and with respect to whom, (1) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States, or (2) no parent of legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.
Approximately 60% of minors initially determined to be "unaccompanied alien children" are placed in the care of one or more parents illegally residing in the United States. However, by Department policy and practice, such minors maintained their status as "unaccompanied alien children," notwithstanding that they may no longer meet the statutory definition once they have been placed by HHS in the custody of a parent in the United States who can care for the minor.
Exploitation of that policy led to abuses by many of the parents and legal guardians of those minors and has contributed to significant administrative delays in adjudications by immigration courts and USCIS.
Instead of processing these children as "unaccompanied alien children" in direct violation of U.S. immigration law as Obama did, Kelly has instructed ICE to draft guidance for immigration officers on how to deal with these kids, including how to legally process turn them over to immigration courts and, when applicable, how to send them back home afterward.
If all that weren’t enough, the Trump administration also announced it’s setting up a new branch within Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), which will allow victims of illegal alien crime to find out information regarding the immigration status of the offender. Kelly noted in his memorandum:
Criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents. Often, these victims are not provided adequate information about the offender, the offender's immigration status, or any enforcement action taken by ICE against the offender.
Efforts by ICE to engage these victims have been hampered by prior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy extending certain Privacy Act protections to persons other than U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, leaving victims feeling marginalized and without a voice.
Accordingly, I am establishing the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office within the Office of the Director of ICE, which will create a programmatic liaison between ICE and the known victims of crimes committed by removable aliens. The liaison will facilitate engagement with the victims and their families to ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that they are provided information about the offender, including the offender's immigration status and custody status, and that their questions and concerns regarding immigration enforcement efforts are addressed.
Kelly added that “Accordingly, to the extent permitted by law, the Director of ICE shall develop a standardized method of reporting statistical data regarding aliens apprehended by ICE and, at the earliest practicable time, provide monthly reports of such data to the public without charge.”