The feds are adding 15,000 total ICE and Border Patrol agents. Also, the days of “catch and release” are officially over. Immigration enforcement is being re-established. Now frustrated federal agents feel like help is on the way as massive support has been offered.
Secretary Kelly directives for immigration enforcement
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly moved Tuesday to implement a host of immigration enforcement changes ordered by President Trump. The new cabinet member has directed agency heads to hire thousands more officers, end so-called “catch-and-release” policies and begin work on the president’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, reported Fox News.
“It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent criminals and criminal organizations from destabilizing border security,” Kelly wrote in one of two memos released Tuesday by the department.
The changes would spare so-called “dreamers.” Fox said a DHS official stressed that the directives would not affect Obama-era protections for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and others given a reprieve in 2014.
Yet aside from those exemptions, Kelly wrote that DHS “no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
A DHS official said the agencies are “going back to our traditional roots” on enforcement.
The memos cover several initiatives, which include:
- Prioritizing criminal illegal immigrants and others for deportation, updating guidance from the previous administration
- Expanding the 287(g) program, which allows participating local officers to act as immigration agents – and had been rolled back under the Obama administration
- Starting the planning, design and construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall
- Hiring 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers
- Hiring 5,000 Border Patrol agents
- Ending “catch-and-release” policies under which illegal immigrants subject to deportation potentially are allowed to “abscond” and fail to appear at removal hearings
In pursuing an end to “catch-and-release,” one memo called for a plan with the Justice Department to “surge” immigration judges and asylum officers to handle additional cases.
U.S. aid earmarked for Mexico
Much discussion and debate has occurred regarding Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for the wall. While congressional Republicans have vowed to work with the president to fund the front-end costs associated with his promised border wall, the same memo also hints at future efforts to potentially use money otherwise meant for Mexico. That is the strategy previously predicted by many.
The secretary called for “identifying and quantifying” sources of aid to Mexico, without saying in the memo how that information might be used.
Naturally, Mexican officials repeatedly said they will not pay for a border barrier. But Trump’s strategy could make their comments irrelevant.
DHS said it has identified initial locations to build a wall where current fencing is not effective, near El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif.