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Memos obtained by the Washington Post show that Homeland Security chief John Kelly is directing immigration authorities to ramp up law enforcement, signaling a dramatic shift in policy from the Obama administration. While the memos should not come as a surprise to anyone who paid attention to Donald Trump’s campaign, they demonstrate just how serious the new president is about cracking down on illegal immigration.
In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.
The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.
“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated in the guidelines.
Specifically, the memos call on immigration agencies to follow through on a number of measures meant to put President Trump’s campaign promises into action:
- Immigration authorities will be able to pursue expedited deportation hearings for anyone who crossed the border less the two years ago.
- New arrivals from Mexico can be sent back across the border instead of being housed in detention centers or sent to live with families in the U.S.
- Parents of unaccompanied minors crossing the border can be prosecuted if it is determined that they paid smugglers to bring their children into the country.
- Border Patrol and ICE can begin hiring thousands of new agents.B