The Department of Homeland Security unveiled an immigration memo on Tuesday revealing that U.S. President Donald Trump can now deport many more undocumented people anywhere in the country.
“The Department will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” the new memorandum says.
In other words, Trump’s new immigration rules now allow for deportation of millions more immigrants.
In what is viewed by advocacy groups as a solid foundation for massive deportations of undocumented immigrants across the nation, Trump has significantly expanded the basis for removal from the U.S. to pretty much anyone. The Trump administration will now be able to deport any immigrant who has been anywhere in the country for up to two years and has been convicted or charged with any criminal offense.
Under the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out removals only within 100 miles of the U.S. border and only targeted people who had been in the country no more than 14 days. The Obama administration prioritized the removal of undocumented immigrants convicted of only serious crimes, while Trump’s immigration and customs agents will be deporting immigrants convicted or charged with any crime, even fraud.
The Trump administration will now be able to carry out deportations anywhere in the country. The President previously promised to deport between 2 million and 3 million people out of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. (as of 2014).
Trump’s rules allow for deportation of millions of immigrants
According to the DHS documents unveiled on Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be hiring 10,000 new agents to carry out nationwide deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Additionally, the DHS directed ICE to expand the number of detention facilities across the U.S. and create a special office to help the families and relatives of those killed by undocumented immigrants. A 2015 study found that Mexican immigration to the U.S. was associated with an uptick in aggravated assaults, while a 2016 study found a direct link between undocumented immigrants and an increase in drug-related crime.
While the order by Trump doesn’t suggest any changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it opens up the basis for deportation to millions more undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Shortly after the memo was unveiled to the public, advocacy groups denounced Trump’s new immigration policies. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, promised to fight back against the new policies.
“President Trump does not have the last word here — the courts and the public will not allow this un-American dream to become reality,” Jadwat said in a statement.
Uptick of arrests by immigration officers in the U.S.
Throughout his presidential campaign and since assuming office, Trump has pledged to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and he is apparently following through on his campaign promises.
Last month, he signed an immigration order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan – from entering the U.S. Although the executive order failed to overcome a series of legal challenges, experts expect him to renew the extreme vetting measures soon.
Last week, civil rights groups reported an unprecedented increase in arrests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to activists in Austin, Texas, ICE officers kept stopping undocumented immigrants in traffic and made several attempts to arrest them in their houses. Immigration agents even reportedly patrolled areas around grocery stores in Austin.
Texas was a largely pro-Trump state during the 2016 presidential election, giving the Republican candidate 52.6% votes against 43.4% for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Despite this, Trump seems to be adamant on following through on his promises regarding undocumented immigrants. Last week, Trump took to Twitter – his preferred method of communication – to reiterate his campaign promises to crack down on “illegal criminals” in the nation.
The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2017
Reports denied by Trump administration
According to memos signed by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, immigration agents will also no longer give immigrants a notice to appear in court. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been instructed to use detention when starting deportation proceedings against an immigrant.
While the new measure will likely skyrocket the number of arrests in the U.S., the memos do not say anything about using National Guard troops to help detain immigrants. A recent leak of a draft memo suggested that Trump was considering using up to 100,000 National Guard troops to carry out arrests of illegal immigrants. However, the DHS later denied the leaked draft’s existence and said the Trump administration wasn’t considering mobilizing National Guard troops to help immigration officers carry out their enforcement duties.
The Trump administration is also not planning to begin “mass throwing folks on buses” to deport them, according to a DHS official cited by The Washington Post.
“We do not need a sense of panic in the communities,” the unnamed official said. “We do not have the personnel, time or resources to go into communities and round up people and do all kinds of mass throwing folks on buses. That’s entirely a figment of folks’ imagination.”
Trump pledged to “unite” the “divided country”
On the day the new immigration rules were made public by the DHS, Trump visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he pledged to unite the “divided country.” Addressing the crowd, the president promised to combat bigotry in the U.S. and pledged to do “everything I can” to protect the freedoms of every African-American and every American. Referring to his tour as “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry and hatred and intolerance,” Trump pledged to “bring this country together.”
“We have a divided country that’s been divided for many, many years, but we’re going to bring it together.”