Homeland Security secretary drafts aggressive guidelines to carry out Trump’s immigration orders

Express News Global

Updated: February 20, 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. (Associated Press)
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. (Associated Press)

Washington:The Department of Homeland Security has drafted broad new guidelines to more aggressively capture and deport people living in the country illegally, a U.S. official said, bringing President Trump’s vision of tougher immigration enforcement a step closer to reality.

The guidelines, which largely follow up on directives that Trump laid out in executive orders in his first week in office, were contained in memos signed Friday by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. The White House is reviewing the memos and may request changes, the official said.

“A surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly wrote.

In October and November, more than 90,000 immigrants were apprehended along the southern border under Obama administration priorities for deporting people who had recently crossed into the U.S. illegally and were close to the border, an increase of about 42% over the same period in 2015, according to Kelly.

Under the proposed guidelines, Kelly wrote, the department will seek to hire 10,000 more enforcement agents and 5,000 Border Patrol officers, which Trump called for in his earlier executive orders strengthening immigration enforcement.

The department “shall immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance” of a wall along the southern border, Kelly wrote, underscoring another directive in the order signed by the president. Trump has repeatedly called for such a wall to help deter the flow of immigrants.

Department officials will prioritize the removal of immigrants, focusing first on those who have been convicted and charged with crimes, have committed fraud or have not complied with orders to leave the country, Kelly wrote.

“Criminal aliens have demonstrated their disregard for the rule of law and pose a threat to persons residing in the United States,” Kelly wrote.

Trump’s orders also greatly expanded the number of people who are considered priorities for deportation: up to 8 million of the 11.1 million people in the U.S. illegally.

Among them are people who haven’t been charged with a crime but are suspected of committing “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” That would include the 6 million people believed to have come into the U.S. without passing through a designated border crossing.

Kelly’s memos said the Homeland Security Department will also create an office to assist those who are victims of crimes committed by those in the country illegally, and will seek to expand partnerships with local police agencies to help nab people in the country illegally.