Trump’s ‘Nationwide Deportation Force’ Is Underway

President Trump is wasting no time at all in moving forward with his plans to create a nationwide deportation force.

According to a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by the Washington Post, measures are currently underway to fulfill Trump’s campaign pledge to develop a deportation force to locate illegal immigrants. Trump has always railed against the dangers he believes illegal immigrants pose to the United States.

The Washington Post reported that the agency has already allocated an additional 33,000 detention beds designed to house undocumented immigrants. It is also considering empowering local police forces with enforcement authority, in addition to determining where the construction of the border wall should begin.

According to the document, hundreds of new Customs and Border Patrol officers will be hired to create a nationwide deportation force, and they’re even considering bypassing physical fitness tests and polygraph tests for potential agents.

However, there could be a delay in these plans due to resistance in Congress and the exorbitant costs as outlined in the internal report. It is understood that many lawmakers are against additional border security measures, and are extremely hesitant to approve billions of dollars in spending on the wall.

According to officials, the plans for removal of illegal immigrants are only preliminary and have yet to be reviewed by senior DHS management; however, they do provide a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes planning to follow through with Trump’s plans to strengthen border enforcement and boost deportations.

DHS’s acting spokesperson, Jillian Christensen, refused to comment on what she calls “pre-decisional documents.” As for advocates for immigrants’ rights, they believe these plans are a waste of both resources and money and that they’re designed to put fear into the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom have lived in the United States for more than a decade.

Secretary John F. Kelly from Homeland Security has stated the DHS is not actively pursuing mass deportations, while Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, disagreed.

“This is an administration that very much is interested in setting up that mass deportation infrastructure and creating the levers of a police state. In these documents, you have more proof and evidence that they’re planning to carry it out.”

Many Congressional Democrats have expressed doubts that Congress would even approve funding for many of Trump’s expensive initiatives. It is understood that Republican leaders are proposing a delay in deciding on Trump’s initial request for $1.5 billion for the border wall, plus $2.6 billion for additional border security next year. They’re hoping to avert a government shutdown by waiting until a new spending bill has been approved this month.

According to the White House, they’re only focusing on deporting immigrants who are undocumented and who “pose a threat to this country,” but according to advocates, undocumented immigrants with no criminal record are also being detained by ICE.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and four Democratic colleagues recently wrote of the border wall in a letter to the Senate’s Republican leadership.

“We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill.”

However, according to the DHS assessment, Border Patrol is using the $20 million re-appropriated by lawmakers in March to move forward with the construction of a border wall prototype, and it is estimated that the prototype will be completed by late July. Moreover, according to these documents, if more funds were allocated by Congress, the next step for CBP would be for the Army Corps of Engineers to commence construction of 34 miles of a border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley sector, labeled by the agency as the “highest priority area.” This would be in addition to 14 miles of a border barrier in the San Diego sector.

The DHS assessment documents are full of cost concerns and, although ICE has identified 21,000 potential detention beds, the document states that the agency “will be unable to secure additional detention capability until funding has been identified.”

Also contained within the documents is information on CBP currently laying the groundwork for using video conferences to hold immigration court hearings at or near ports of entry to the United States: this will depend on whether the government of Mexico agrees to house third-country immigrants awaiting adjudication in the United States legal system.

The Mexican government is not totally onboard with this procedure; however, it was established that the cost would be $50,000 for the video equipment per location. There are alternative plans being considered, like sending United States judges to the “port courts,” though this procedure would cost $400,000 per location.

J. Kevin Appleby is a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies, and he referred to the proposed allocation of funds as a “wasted use of resources.”

“They’re throwing a lot of public resources at a problem that should not be a priority, especially since the number of border crossers is down considerably. Overall, it’s a wasted use of resources that could be used more efficiently.”

Since Trump became President, the number of people illegally crossing the border from Mexico has dropped considerably, so much so that a DHS assessment shows 2,100 detention spaces reserved by ICE and CBP during last year’s immigration surge remain unused.

ICE have executive orders to expand the program, which includes allowing CBP to launch its own version: the intention is to create a “force multiplier.” The ICE review board is now considering applications from 18 new jurisdictions, with 50 more interested in participating.

Appleby said that, up until this point, they have been using scare tactics to demonstrate to supporters just how tough they’re going to be on immigration.

“Eventually, they really have to produce results. Without congressional approval for funding they will not reach the deportation numbers under Obama. That will be the test. If in the first year there are not a significant number deported, how will they distinguish themselves from the previous administration?”

Fox News reported that Trump’s aim is to bring in a further 5,000 border agents and 10,000 ICE agents, at a possible price-tag of up to $100 million.

The Week reported that, under Trump’s administration, there’s been a doubling of arrests of illegal immigrants with clean police records. Statistics show that the number of immigrants with criminal records was up 15 percent. However, the arrests of immigrants with no criminal record at all also doubled, and even tripled at some field offices.

Almost 55,000 people were deported in the period from January to mid-March, and while the deportation of immigrants with criminal records fell, there was an increase in the number of non-criminals being deported. ICE spokesperson, Jennifer Elzea, said that because some countries like China are not willing to take their citizens back, it can take some time to deport people.

The Washington Post pointed out that, compared to the Obama administration, it’s the tactics Trump’s ICE agents use and not necessarily the numbers, because, so far, Trump’s deportation numbers are lower than Obama’s in 2014.

ICE’s tactics have struck terror into immigrant communities, because immigrants have been arrested in local and state courthouses, on their way to work, and immigrant advocates who speak out have also been targeted.

Dan Satterberg is the top prosecutor in Seattle and King County.

“My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen. The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.”

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]