DHS Outlines New Rules on Immigration Enforcement

President Trump on Tuesday directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enforce the nation's immigration laws more aggressively, expanding the pool of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation and increasing the number of people removed through an expedited process, reported The New York Times.

Two immigration guidance memorandums released by DHS revealed the broad scope of the president's ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.

Under the new rules, the department would greatly expand the number of immigrants who are prioritized for removal. This includes a person in the country illegally who may have committed a crime but not been charged, who has "abused any program related to receipt of public benefits," or who an immigration officer deems a risk to public safety or national security.

Whereas the Obama administration prioritized deporting immigrants convicted of serious criminal offenses, immigration authorities have now been directed to essentially remove anyone in the country illegally.

While the guidance gives federal officials the latitude to potentially deport as many as eight to 11 million immigrants, Homeland Security officials said that the new policies would not affect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to NPR. The ultimate fate of the DACA program, an Obama-era policy that offered protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, still remains uncertain, though.

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to "immediately" end the program, but now says DACA is "one of the most difficult" issues he has faced in office. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have said they are working on a plan that will address the status of DACA recipients. Neither the president nor GOP leaders have disclosed details on their discussions.

For now, DACA recipients—many of whom are college students—will not be targeted unless they commit crimes, the New York Times reported. Undocumented students not protected under DACA could be subject to immigration enforcement. While an estimated 750,000 immigrants are currently safeguarded under the DACA program, more undocumented individuals enrolled in colleges and universities across the country may not be protected.

Although DHS officials currently maintain that so-called Dreamers would not explicitly be targeted under the new rules, student information requests could be possible and would likely be problematic as institutions vary in the way that undocumented students are identified, with the most likely classifications being either resident, out-of-state, or foreign students. As is always the case under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), institutions receiving such inquiries should request the statutory authority requiring disclosure before releasing student education records.

Meanwhile, despite promises to swiftly issue a revised executive order on travel and refugees, the White House pushed back the release until next week, reported The Hill. Although no explanation was given for the delay, it remains unclear how the administration will tweak the directive—which temporarily bars refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country—to avoid future pitfalls. White House policy advisor Stephen Miller told Fox News that the new order will largely resemble the old one, but that the changes will be "mostly minor technical differences."

Trump vowed to draft a new directive as his original order remains blocked by the courts. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the U.S. Justice Department's request to lift a temporary restraining order preventing the Trump administration from enforcing the entry ban.

 

Related Links

DHS Memorandum on Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0220_S1_Enforcement-of-the-Immigration-Laws-to-Serve-the-National-Interest.pdf

DHS Memorandum on Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0220_S1_Implementing-the-Presidents-Border-Security-Immigration-Enforcement-Improvement-Policies.pdf

The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/us/politics/dhs-immigration-trump.html

NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/21/516433342/homeland-security-outlines-new-rules-tightening-enforcement-of-immigration-law

The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320735-white-house-punts-new-travel-order-to-next-week