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Admin Memos Lay Out Immigration Plan   02/22 06:11

   A pair of enforcement memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly lay 
bare exactly what the Trump administration plans to do and how many of the 
estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally will be 
targeted for deportation.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump the presidential candidate made no secret of 
his desire to crack down on illegal immigration, but once elected, he 
repeatedly offered varying interpretations of just how tough he would be in the 
White House.

   Now a pair of enforcement memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly 
lay bare exactly what the Trump administration plans to do and how many of the 
estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally will be 
targeted for deportation. The short answer: a lot.

   A look at some of what the policy memos say the government will do.

   ___

   SEND IMMIGRANTS WHO HAVE CROSSED THE BORDER ILLEGALLY TO MEXICO --- EVEN IF 
THEY'RE NOT MEXICAN

   A border security memo calls for the use of a long-standing but obscure U.S. 
law to send some immigrants who have crossed the border illegally back to 
Mexico even if they are from other countries. The memo and the law it cites 
don't include details on how or if the U.S. can force the Mexican government to 
allow foreigners to wait in that country while U.S. officials decide their 
fate. Historically, the U.S. has jailed and tried to deport foreigners from 
countries other than Mexico, while Mexican nationals could be easily and 
quickly sent back over the border. The proposal is likely to come up in 
discussions this week in Mexico between Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 
and the Mexican government.

   ___

   UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN

   One of Kelly's memos directs the Homeland Security Department to stop 
providing some legal protections to child immigrants caught crossing the border 
alone if they are reunited with their parents or a legal guardian inside the 
United States. The protections generally allow for those children to have their 
case decided by a judge, but the new policy would likely subject them to 
fast-track deportation proceedings that don't require a judge's approval. The 
memo also calls for the government to investigate the immigration status of 
those parents or guardians and any possible criminal activity connected to 
bringing the children into the United States.

   Immigration advocates decried the effort to target parents of child 
immigrants who they say are largely fleeing violence in Central America. Jen 
Smyers, director of policy and advocacy for Church World Service's Immigration 
and Refugee Program, said those parents are focused on getting their children 
to safety.

   ___

   LOCAL POLICE ENFORCING FEDERAL LAWS

   Under the Obama administration a program allowing local police and jailers 
to act as immigration agents was curtailed as the government narrowly focused 
immigration enforcement. Communities also complained that some jurisdictions 
were overly aggressive in enforcing federal laws.

   The Secure Communities program, which uses fingerprints collected in local 
jails to identify immigrants in the U.S. illegally, was halted amid complaints 
and court rulings barring some jurisdictions from detaining immigrants for 
federal authorities.

   Kelly's memos make clear that the government plans to restart those programs.

   ___

   JAIL AND PROSECUTE MORE PEOPLE CROSSING THE BORDER ILLEGALLY

   Kelly's directive calls for more people caught crossing the border illegally 
to face criminal charges. It is illegal to cross the border without permission, 
and the government does charge immigrants with crossing the border for the 
first time or coming back after being deported, a felony. But to do that on a 
wide scale, as was done along at least one section of the border in Texas under 
President George W. Bush, is costly and resource intensive.

   One of the Kelly memos also calls for more jails. The government currently 
has the space and money to jail 34,000 people at a time. Congress will likely 
have to approve tens of millions of dollars for new construction and staff for 
the facilities or fund contracts with private prison companies.

   ___

   HIRE 15,000 BORDER AND IMMIGRATION AGENTS

   The Trump administration announced plans to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol 
agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. That will be a 
tall order. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border 
Patrol, is already having trouble hiring new agents, as about 2 out of every 3 
job applicants fails the agency's polygraph test. There are already about 2,000 
Border Patrol vacancies, a deficit largely attributed to the polygraph fail 
rate.

   Kelly suggested to lawmakers earlier this month that the hiring would be 
slow and deliberate, and the agency would not lower its standards.

   ___

   PRIORITIZE CRIMINALS AND SUSPECTED CRIMINALS

   One of Kelly's memos outlines that criminal immigrants will be a top 
priority. But that category is broad and includes anyone convicted, arrested or 
suspected of a crime. That means anyone arrested for even a minor traffic 
violation or suspected of crossing the border illegally will now be a priority.

   More than half the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country 
illegally are believed to have crossed the border illegally. Immigrants who 
have overstayed a visa have not committed a crime but a civil violation. Still, 
those immigrants could also face deportation if they are arrested for just 
about any offense or simply encounter immigration officials looking for someone 
else.

   ___

   YOUNG IMMIGRANTS PROTECTED BY OBAMA

   Kelly's memos do not rescind or change the Obama-era Deferred Action for 
Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that protects more than 750,000 young 
immigrants from deportation and allows them to work.

   Trump decried the effort as an "illegal amnesty" during the campaign but 
softened his stance on the issue after winning November's election. The 
administration has not said how long the program will continue, but White House 
spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday those protections will remain in place so 
long as those immigrants don't commit a crime or otherwise become a security 
threat.


(KA)

 
 
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