Many more in US could face immediate deportation

PALM BEACH (Florida) • The federal authorities would be empowered to immediately deport vastly more unauthorised immigrants as part of a broad crackdown being developed by the Trump administration that would significantly change the way federal agencies enforce immigration laws.

Two draft memos signed last Friday by Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly outline an aggressive mission for the immigration authorities that would rescind policies put in place by former president Barack Obama that focused mainly on removing serious criminals.

The directives appear to spare many younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, known as "Dreamers". But some parents of children who enter unaccompanied could face prosecution under the guidelines.

The approach laid out in the memos, which have not been finalised and are subject to change by the White House, reflects Mr Donald Trump's campaign promise to harden the border and deport people who entered the United States illegally.

Among the most significant changes in the memos, which were obtained by McClatchy newspapers and The Washington Post, would be an expansion of expedited removal proceedings to cover thousands more unauthorised immigrants.

Under expedited removals, agents from the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement can deport detained individuals immediately.

Under Obama administration directives, expedited removal was used only within 160km of the border for people who had been in the country no more than 14 days.

Mr Kelly's memos would expand that to those who have been in the country for up to two years anywhere in the nation.

The memos also call for the possible prosecution of the parents of children who arrived as unaccompanied minors and are later reunited with the parents. Under Mr Kelly's directive, the parents could be charged with smuggling or trafficking.

But the memos appear to exempt the "Dreamers", the young immigrants protected under Mr Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, called DACA.

Mr Trump has signalled that he is not eager to completely reverse that initiative, since those young immigrants were not responsible for their entering the country illegally.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Many more in US could face immediate deportation'. Print Edition | Subscribe