DHS Issues 2 Implementation Memos

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On February 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued 2 new implementation memos: (1) Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies and (2) Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest.  The memoranda are meant to help DHS employees understand how to implement the President’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

The first memo,Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies , immediately rescinded President Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program, which prioritized deportation of criminals and recently-arrived undocumented individuals, and gives immigration officials broad authority to deport “all removable aliens,” including those who have “committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense” and those who “pose a risk to public safety or national security.”  It stands to reason that local ICE offices, with their finite resources, will still prioritize removing people with, say, a violent felony, before they will go after a long time resident with no criminal history, but the memo does not concede that common sense fact.

The second memo, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, dramatically expands what is knows as expedited removal, which allows ICE officers to remove people from the country without involving  a judge.  The real issue here is that there is no oversight, so even though the officers are not supposed to send people back to places where they have a credible fear of harm, they will and there will be little that anyone can do about it.  Under Obama, expedited removal was limited to people who had been in the country less than 2 weeks and were within 100 miles of the border.  The new memo expands that to 2 years, and requires the alien to prove continuous residence beyond that time.   The memo also calls for the hiring of an additional 10,000 ICE agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol Agents.

I predict, and what I am seeing, is that people are going to recede into the shadows and not apply for any kind of immigration benefit, even if they may be eligible, simply because they don’t trust this administration.  Why give up your address?  It is also going to prevent undocumented victims of crimes from ever calling the local police, for fear of deportation, so victims of violent or sexual abuse will stay silent. California’s farming industry will be destroyed if every undocumented worker is removed, and the politics of that will be key to watch.  While the Valley voted from Trump overwhelmingly, they do not want to see their businesses fail.  There is an interesting article in the New York Times on this, which you can read here.

The memos follow the theme of the President’s executive order and campaign: deport everyone who is here illegally.  That’s 11 million people, roughly.