Feb. 19 (UPI) — The Department of Homeland Security has issued pending guidelines for stronger detainment and deportation of immigrants, and border security, according to two memos from new Secretary John Kelly.
Kelly detailed plans to hire several thousand enforcement agents, to enlist local law enforcement for arrests and to more aggressively remove undocumented immigrants, according to the guidelines obtained by media outlets. An unidentified White House official told The Washington Post the draft memos are under review by the White House Counsel’s Office.
A department spokeswoman, Gillian Christensen, told CNN she did not dispute their contents but said they could change before they’re officially issued.
In executive actions signed soon after he became president last month, Donald Trump announced plans to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to increase enforcement actions against the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.
The changes contrast measures from former President Barack Obama to solely focus on deportations of 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 wrote in the guidelines.
He noted an increased 10,000 to 15,000 apprehensions per month at the southern U.S. border between 2015 and 2016.
Kelly’s memos were submitted to officials at Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
One plan is to immediately return home Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border pending the outcomes of their deportation hearings, rather than house them on U.S. property.
Previously, ICE and Customs and Border Protection had used “expedited removal” for immigrants caught within 100 miles of the border within 14 days of entering the United States or by those who arrived by sea but not at a port.
The guidelines intend to reduce the number of unaccompanied minors who have come from Mexico and Central America, which was 155,000 in the last three years. Under the new policies, their parents in the United States could be prosecuted if they paid smugglers to bring the children across the border.
“This memo is just breathtaking, the way they really are looking at every part of the entire system,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told The Washington Post.
The memos do not address one directive from the Obama administration: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that gave work permits to more than 750,000 immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.
Kelly plans to expand a program to deputize local police to act as immigration officers for enforcement.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told the Washington Post on Saturday he had not seen the memos. He said that apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, one of the heaviest traveled areas of the border, decreased by about 1,000 in one month since Trump became president.
The guidelines makes it harder to grant asylum to those who perceive a risk of persecution or torture in their home countries.
The memo states: “The asylum officer shall make a positive credible fear finding only after the officer has considered all relevant evidence and determined, based on credible evidence, that the alien has a significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum, or for withholding or deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, based on established legal authority.”