Donald Trump is planning to bypass the courts in order to deport as many illegal immigrants as possible out of the United States.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released two memos depicting how the government agency plans to implement President Donald Trump’s executive orders on domestic immigration enforcement.
The pair of memos called for a massive increase in the number of immigration agents and the deputizing of local and state law enforcement across the country. They also included plans to dramatically expand the range of immigrants who will be allowed to be deported without seeing a judge first.
According to The Intercept, Greg Siskind, a Tennessee-based immigration attorney and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association board of governors, claimed, “I see now what the plan is.”
“Their plan is basically to have everybody thrown out of the country without ever going to court.”
Multiple other immigration attorneys and legal experts shared Siskind’s concerns, describing various elements of the Department of Homeland Security’s directives and the executive orders they reflect as “horrifying,” “stunning,” and “inhumane.”
Lee Gelernt, a veteran immigration attorney and the deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, also commented.
“This is the broadest, most widespread change I have seen in doing this work for more than two decades.
“After 9/11 we saw some extreme policies, but they were largely confined to particular areas around the relationship between immigration and national security. Here what we’re seeing are those types of policies but also much broader policies just dealing with immigration generally.”
A Cleveland-based immigration attorney and past president of the AILA said that he expected “bad based on Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric.”
“Then when I read the executive order, I expected really bad … but I’m absolutely shocked at the mean-spiritedness of this.”
The attorneys were not alone in their feelings of concern. Representative Bennie G. Thompson, a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, claimed in a statement to the press that the memos clearly show that the Trump administration is “more concerned with attempting to fulfill misguided campaign promises than doing what is best for the safety and security of the country.”
Thompson added that Trump seemed to be “dead set on creating a massive deportation force and labeling anyone undocumented for expedited removal just to boost deportation numbers.”
John Sandweg, a former acting director of the United States Immigration of Customs Enforcement and former acting general counsel of Department of Homeland Security, gave an interview with the Washington Post.
“A lot of this is designed to put up numbers — but in doing so, you diminish the impact on public safety.”
Tuesday’s memos enforced the implementation of Trump’s orders earlier this month, The Intercept previously reported.
The guidance coincides with the executive orders that Donald Trump signed back in January, confirming that ICE will prioritize the deportation of virtually all immigrants in the United States without authorization.
This includes immigrants with no criminal records, others whose offenses include low-level, non-violent immigration records, and the falsification of documents to obtain work.
Experts claimed that this range of immigrants would amount to essentially all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. This does not include the exception of about 740,000 individuals protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The memos institutionalized the hardening of the nation’s asylum system and institute for the criminal prosecution of immigrant parents who attempt to have their children transported to the United States illegally.
Immediately after the memos were released, a number of measures were taken calling for the actions mentioned not to happen immediately.
In order to deport and detain the number of immigrants that Trump’s administration wants to deport, it will take time, money, and congressional approval to build a network of immigrant detention centers along the southern border of Mexico.
An estimated 5,000 new border patrol agents and 10,000 more ICE agents would be needed. There would also be legal challenges to the implementation of the directives.
The deportation procedure will be expanded to include expedited removal for all immigrants, which means the government will be able to deport any individual not authorized to be in the country.
Under the Obama administration, the process had mostly been limited to undocumented immigrants who were detained within 100 miles of the border who could prove they had been in the country continuously for 14 days or more.
The Trump administration will now require immigrants to provide up to two years of continuous physical presence in the country in order to avoid deportation.
Claiming asylum was one of the only ways that an immigrant could legally defend themselves against expedited removal. A person who claimed asylum is entitled to a so-called “credible fear” interview before an asylum official.
If they passed the threshold necessary to prove a credible fear of being returned to their country, they would be entitled to make their case before a judge.
The expansion of expedited removal has caused major concern for some United States immigration officials. The main concern is that the Department of Homeland Security would make passing credible fear screenings far more difficult, which would allow more people to be deported without seeing a judge.
A senior U.S. immigration official told reporters that these changes were already in the works.
The guidelines are set to go into effect next week and would place added requirements on asylum officials to confirm that the fear described by asylum seekers was credible.
“Immigration advocates should prepare for a storm of negative screenings.”
The Department of Homeland Security memos indicated a preference for having more immigrants in detention in order to achieve a faster means to deportation.
Outside of detention, it could take years for immigration cases to settle.
“It’s quicker because … you don’t have to go get them, you don’t have to go find them. It’s also quicker because it’s much, much harder for them to find and get lawyers when they’re there.
“This looks like an effort to switch everyone from the non-detained docket to the detained docket.”
Other concerns include the conditions of the detention beds and whether they will remain humane and safe if the numbers of people rise so significantly.
“There’s a whole infrastructure that is needed to make that all work, and if you just increase enforcement capacity — the people who are picking them up, the people who are getting them into detention, and so on — and you don’t increase oversight capacity, then people are going to die in detention.”
Another concern lies within the quality of the increasing size of federal law enforcement agents.
The anonymous senior U.S. immigration official told The Intercept that many of the concerns expressed by the legal and advocacy community were valid, but despite those concerns, the administration’s efforts could possibly deliver exactly what President Trump’s supporters want: “hard numbers that the administration will point to as success.”
“I fear that it’s going to be a really effective, comprehensive strategy that will look good on the outside — deportations will go up, ‘danger aliens’ will be in detention, asylum claims will go down, illegal border crossings will go down. My fear is that the likely success in terms of the numbers will drown out the ethical considerations.”
[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]