DHS to Ramp Up Deportations, Continue Protections for DREAMers

Deportation protesters rally outside the Supreme Court in June 2016. (Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult)

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced its new plans to crack down on illegal immigration into the U.S.

The guidelines, released Tuesday in two memos by DHS Secretary John Kelly which echo executive orders signed by President Donald Trump last month, instruct agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to go after all “removable” immigrants.

DHS said it will leave in place the Obama administration’s protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, also known as DREAMers, and undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. However, the department “no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” Kelly wrote. The memos direct agents to continue prioritizing removing immigrants who are criminals, but also go after those who “abused” any public assistance program or pose a risk to public safety “in the judgement of an immigration officer.”

The memo also instructs agents to expedite removal processes for undocumented immigrants detained at the border, a departure from the Obama administration’s legal procedures which provided some due process.

Morning Consult survey last month found only about 4 in 10 voters (38 percent) support deporting all undocumented immigrants in the United States, while 53 percent oppose. Seven in 10 voters (72 percent) support allowing undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as young children to apply for legal status.

The guidelines also call for identifying available funding to plan and begin constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, one of Trump’s key campaign pledges. According to a Morning Consult survey in January, 47 percent of Americans said they support building a wall along the southern border and 45 percent opposed. Half of voters said they think Trump will fulfill the promise.

Related: Voters Prioritize Tax Reform, Obamacare Repeal Over Border Wall

The guidance also calls for:

  • Hiring 10,000 new ICE agents, 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 500 more air and marine officers.
  • Forging new agreements with local law enforcement.
  • Collecting data on apprehensions and releases.

“The surge of illegal 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 a statement Friday as the memos were being leaked, Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center, said they were proof of the “xenophobic and nativist vision driving the administration’s immigration policies.”

Voters are split on whether immigrants, in general, are good or bad for America: 42 percent think they are mostly a burden, while another 42 percent say they strengthen the country.

Morning Consult