Trump team widens net for immigrant deportation
Washington, Feb 22 (IANS) The Trump administration has issued tough guidelines to widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants from the US, and speed up their removal.
Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed the broad scope of the President’s ambitions: to publicise crimes by undocumented immigrants, strip such immigrants of privacy protections, enlist local police officers as enforcers, erect new detention facilities, discourage asylum seekers, and, ultimately, speed up deportations, the New York Times reported.
Undocumented immigrants arrested for traffic violations or shop-lifting will be targeted along with those convicted of more serious crimes.
Major steps outlined in the papers included hiring more Customs and Border Protection agents, expanding a programme that gives DHS Secretary John Kelly more power in directing field operations, initiating a wall along the US-Mexican border, and stepping up the effort to “return aliens to contiguous countries”.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines would not usher in mass deportations, but were designed to empower agents to enforce laws already on the books. “The President wanted to take the shackles off individuals in these agencies,” Spicer said.
“The message from this White House and the Department of Homeland Security is that those people who are in this country, who pose a threat to our safety, or who have committed a crime, will be the first to go,” he said.
The guidelines revealed sweeping changes from the approach taken by former President Obama. The only Obama policy that survived was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a programme that allowed people who entered the country illegally as children to stay, usually for work or school, reported the Hill magazine.
But the White House said that even ÂDACA could be ultimately eliminated, as President Trump seeks a tough approach.
DHS officials told reporters that while the guidance memos expand the federal government’s ability to empower state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration officers, no National Guard troops will be deployed to round up immigrants in the US.
The officials said the policies mostly enforce existing law and won’t lead to an immediate massive round-ups of undocumented immigrants.