As part of President Donald Trump’s effort to crack down on illegal immigration, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly recently issued two memos giving federal immigration agents more freedom to catch and deport people who were in the country unlawfully.
The agents were reportedly instructed that there were no longer any special groups of people — other than unaccompanied children — who were to be considered “off limits” for deportation, according to The Washington Times.
Kelly’s memos also included instructions that anyone who was caught at the border could be swiftly shipped back to Mexico, while agents working within the interior of the country were given more freedom to target a wider range of illegal immigrants.
Reversing Obama-era burdens that often prevented federal agents from effectively enforcing our immigration laws, Kelly’s policy allowed agents to use discretion when prioritizing who should be detained, including — but not limited to — factors such as the alien’s criminal records, USA Today reported.
The secretary also noted that local police forces who wanted to help enforce immigration laws would no longer be snubbed as they were under the Obama administration, but rather they would be welcomed.
Under Obama’s policies, migrants who were able to make it well into the country’s interior were generally not pursued and agents were required to give them “low priority” for potential deportation. In addition, many illegal immigrants who were caught were released and ordered to reappear for court hearings under Obama’s “catch and release” policy.
Now immigration agents and prosecutors throughout the U.S. will be free to arrest and deport those illegal aliens who were “protected” under the previous administration. Additionally, all undocumented immigrants caught entering the United States will be placed in detention until their cases are resolved, according to UPI.
The memos, signed on Monday, called for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and 500 more officers for the air and marine operations at Customs and Border Protection.
However, Congress would need to give funding approval in order for those measures to take place, and of course those measures were being scrutinized by Democrats on Capitol Hill.
“We need an immediate public examination in Congress of these heavy-handed, anti-family policies,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin said, calling for a reversal of Trump’s mass deportation orders.
However, security officials said there was no numerical goal for total deportations, and disputed charges from liberal lawmakers and immigrant-rights activists that mass deportations were in the near future.
“It is not intended to produce mass roundups,” a Homeland Security official said during a press brief regarding Kelly’s memos.
“What we’re doing is we’re simply executing the laws passed by the United States Congress,” the official explained.
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