Donald Trump immigration crackdown: New and tougher immigration policy in motion

President Donald Trump pledged during his campaign to create a deportation force. Now, he’s equipped federal immigration agents with the tools to remove potentially millions of immigrants from the country.

President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants will cast a far wider net than President Obama’s did. The new guidelines could potentially ensnare millions of immigrants who entered the United States illegally but since then have abided by the law, worked for a living and raised families in a country they now call home.

Mr. Trump has stated on many occasions that his administration would go after “bad hombres” and “dangerous criminals” when it comes to enforcing immigration laws and his administration plans to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation. However, will leave protections in place for immigrants known as "dreamers" who entered the United States illegally as children, according to official guidelines released on Tuesday.

The Department of Homeland Security guidance to immigration agents is part of a broader border security and immigration enforcement plan in executive orders that Republican Trump signed on Jan. 25.

DHS officials, on a conference call with reporters, said that although any immigrant in the country illegally could be deported, the agency will prioritize those deemed a threat. These include recent entrants, those convicted of a crime and people charged but not convicted of a crime. Some details of the guidelines were detailed in a draft memo seen on Saturday.

DHS officials told reporters Tuesday 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 agency also plans to send non-Mexican migrants crossing the southern U.S. border back into Mexico as they await a decision on their case. The DHS officials said this plan would be dependent on partnerships with the Mexican government and would not be implemented overnight. The guidelines were released a day before U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were due in Mexico City for talks with President Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexican officials. An official from Mexico's Foreign Ministry said the government would tell Kelly's team to that it was "impossible" for Mexico to accept deportees or asylum applicants from foreign countries, and would ask them to explain their plan.

The fundamental shift in US policy will likely continue to provoke fear in immigrant communities of a vast expansion of the government's use of its enforcement powers to potentially deport undocumented immigrants who have lived in their communities for years and may have family members who are legal US residents or citizens. DHS officials say the policies mostly enforce existing law and won't lead to an immediate massive round-ups of undocumented immigrants.

Donald Trump immigration crackdown: New deportation rules allow far more expulsions

The new plan vastly grows the number of individuals who can be deported using "expedited removal" procedures, which affords immigrants almost no court proceedings. Under the new policy, if someone cannot prove he or she has been living in the US continuously for two years, he or she could now be eligible for expedited removal. Previously, this was limited in practice to people apprehended within 100 miles of the border and who had arrived within the past two weeks. The memos also make a series of changes as part of ending so-called "catch and release," where undocumented immigrants awaiting court proceedings are granted parole and leave to enter the country pending court dates that can be years in the future. It places stricter limits on who can be paroled instead of detained, making detention pending court proceedings the default for thousands of immigrants.

Along these lines, the guidance also makes it more difficult to receive asylum protections, a key exception to "expedited removal" that often lets people stay in the US as they await a final ruling on their eligibility for asylum.

Unaccompanied minors

In further tightening of protections that allow more leniency to certain immigrants, the administration is also looking to limit protections for unaccompanied minors that seek to enter the US. The executive order notes that in some cases, individuals continued to receive protection as unaccompanied alien children even when they had a parent or guardian living illegally in the US, saying it led to "abuses" of the system. Kelly's memo calls for new guidance to end those "abuses" - which could restrict the eligibility that was previously given to all minors under 18 who arrived without a parent or guardian in the US able to care for them.

Donald Trump immigration crackdown: ‘Dreamers’ help make America great - don’t deport them

The Trump administration on Tuesday delivered its most explicit embrace yet of Obama-era protections for young undocumented immigrants - while at the same time issuing new rules that immigration advocates fear effectively chips away at the previous barriers to deportation.

Newly released memos from the Department of Homeland Security leave intact two specific executive orders from President Barack Obama that granted protection from prosecution for so-called Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the US as children, and a second one that included parents of US citizens and legal residents.

The preservation of the Obama-era policies comes after Trump has attempted to tread carefully on DACA, walking a line between Republicans who want the program cut entirely, and the political and practical impact of eliminating protections for undocumented immigrants.

While the memos leave DACA and DAPA as an exception, they also make clear that any undocumented immigrant charged with a crime is now eligible for removal and no undocumented immigrants will be exempt from deportation proceedings. Immigration advocates have long been unsatisfied with Trump's focus on removing "bad" people. They point to his aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail, including his very first campaign speech identifying many Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, without evidence.

The Department of Homeland Security Tuesday laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported. Many of the instructions will not be implemented immediately because they depend on Congress, a public comment period or negotiations with other nations, the officials said. Mexican immigration officials immediately objected to part of the new rules.

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