DHS Secretary John Kelly has certainly been busy since the Senate confirmed his appointment last month, but two memos he signed yesterday are the most significant actions he's taken thus far. Kelly signed a memo titled "Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest" and another one titled "Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies" providing guidance to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Border Patrol, and USCIS on how to execute Pres. Trump's Jan. 25 executive orders.
The first memo lays out several guidelines for interior enforcement, but most significantly, it rescinds "all existing conflicting directives, memoranda, or field guidance regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws and priorities for removal" issued by the Obama administration. This includes the Morton Memos issued in 2011-12 and the administration's Priority Enforcement Program launched in 2014 that heavily restricted ICE's interior enforcement efforts.
The only downside to Kelly's interior enforcement memo is that it specifically excludes the recision of Pres. Obama's DACA and DAPA amnesties.
The interior enforcement memo implements the following actions:
- Orders DHS personnel to faithfully execute immigration laws against all removable aliens.
- Ends all exemptions for classes or categories of removable aliens from enforcement.
- Announces the hiring of 10,000 additional ICE agents.
- Prioritizes removal for aliens who:
- have been convicted of any criminal offense;
- have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved;
- have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
- have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency;
- have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
- are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
- in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.
- Restores the Secure Communities Program, which alerts ICE whenever an illegal aliens is booked in a local jail.
- Encourages local jurisdictions to participate in the 287(g) Program allowing local police to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
- Establishes the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office to act as a liaison between victims and their families of crimes committed by illegal aliens
- Provides monthly public reports on illegal aliens detained and removed and provide weekly reports on illegal aliens released by sanctuary cities
Kelly's border security memo addresses not just current weaknesses in border security, but also attempts to discourage future border surges while providing a system for dealing with any future surges. The memo implements the following actions:
- Announces the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 500 Air & Marine agents in order to achieve 100% operational control of all borders.
- Calls for the identification of all federal aid to Mexico over the last 5 years.
- Encourages additional 287(g) participation in jurisdictions along the border.
- Begins the process for constructing additional barriers along the border.
- Ends catch-and-release and allows all Border Patrol officers to expeditiously remove any alien caught entering the country if immediately found to be inadmissible.
- Ends abuse of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act regarding unaccompanied alien children.
- Directs DHS to take legal action against those who have facilitated the smuggling and trafficking of children.
- Adheres to existing federal law when it comes to the adjudication of asylum claims and assessing credible fear claims.
- Ensures proper application of parole for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
- Prioritizes enforcement of serious criminal activity along the border, including drug and human trafficking and smuggling.
- Calls for the establishment of standardized reporting of border statistics.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director, Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:50am EST