President Trump set course to deliver on his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration this week. The Department of Homeland Security issued a memo directing officials to step up enforcement, and it outlines several key steps to ensuring border security.
The memo calls for an increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) and Border Patrol agents. President Trump is requesting 10,000 additional ICE agents and 5,000 Border Patrol agents– a step the administration calls necessary to ensure proper enforcement of the law.
President Trump called for the expedited removal of certain aliens in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The administration is also utilizing state and local law enforcement to help combat illegal aliens.
The INA allows the federal government to enter into agreement with such agencies to grant them this authority. This is known as the 2876 Program.
President Trump is not asking these agencies to round up people merely on suspicion of citizenship, however, he is asking them to help crack down on removing criminal illegal aliens. The administration has labeled those here illegally who commit crimes as a priority for removal. State and local agencies are more likely to encounter such aliens and the administration finds these agencies “critical to an effective enforcement strategy”.
A quick read of the memo also reveals the Trump administration is essentially abolishing the “catch and release” policy of the Obama administration, allowing immigration officials to return inadmissible aliens to the country of origin until a proper removal hearing can be held.
The administration is also ensuring aliens have access to fair proceedings. DHS is asking for officials to increase the number of asylum officers, and these officers will process asylum requests made by aliens. In addition, the administration is implementing a teleconference hearing program which allows aliens to attend a hearing from foreign soil. These measures reduce detention and absconding of aliens in the United States.
Perhaps another one of the most highly sought after proposals of the Trump administration is also getting a jump start. The memo orders that available funds be directed toward the design, planning, and building of a border wall. The administration campaigned hard on building the wall, and President Trump says the wall is vital to securing our borders. The memo also calls for officials to propose budget requests for Congress to approve future funds toward its construction. Further, the materials used for construction are to be manufactured in the United States.
Finally, the administration has set measures to deal with the increasing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally. The memo directs officials to transfer custody of unaccompanied minors, and they will be processed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours. It provides these children with access to proper care facilities and any social services they may need.
President Trump also seeks to crack down on those smuggling children into our country. Therefore, the memo calls for anyone that facilitates the illegal transport of children to be prosecuted. The memo calls this act “intolerable” and officials say the smuggling of children often ends with them becoming victims of crime and sexual exploitation.
Critics of the President’s approach have accused the administration of ordering mass roundups of illegal immigrants, but in actuality the memo calls for the strengthening of our national security while ensuring that state and federal agencies enforce the laws that are already on the books. Further, the memo allows agencies designed to deal with such issues to do their jobs more effectively.
Ultimately the memo helps to ensure we remain a nation of immigrants– legal ones– and the measures represent one step towards restoring our broken immigration system.