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DeportationsDetails of Trump’s policy of massive deportations emerge

Published 21 February 2017

A couple of memos signed by DHS secretary John Kelly late last week offer details of the administration’s plans for what both current and former government officials describe as a massive roundup of undocumented immigrants. Immigration experts note that many of the ideas in Kelly’s two memos are already part of a bill passed by Congress in 1996 — but which policy makers from both parties, law enforcement agencies, and ICE officials disregarded because they considered these clauses in the bill as either unenforceable or absurd. The Kelly plan calls for hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers who are not Mexicans  — they are Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Brazilians, Ecuadorans, and Haitians – to be forced back into Mexico, and those among them who wish to apply for asylum in the United States would do so via videoconference calls with U.S. immigration officials from facilities in Mexico.

More deportations to follow, according to Kelly plan // Source: theconversation.com

A couple of memos signed by DHS secretary John Kelly late last week, and disclosed by McClatchy over the weekend, offer details of the administration’s plans for what both current and former government officials describe as a massive roundup of undocumented immigrants. The Chicago Tribune reports that officials said that two former Senate aides to Attorney General Jeff Sessions drafted the plan without consulting career DHS policy staffers with experience in immigration and deportation issues.

Immigration experts note that many of the ideas in Kelly’s two memos are already part of a bill passed by Congress in 1996 — but which policy makers from both parties, law enforcement agencies, and ICE officials disregarded because they considered these clauses in the bill as either unenforceable or absurd.

ProPublica notes that among these 1996 ideas was a call for returning undocumented immigrants “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo goes on to point out how pushing the immigrants back into Mexico would benefit DHS’s budget, saying that it would, “save the Department’s detention and adjudication resources.” 

One problem with this idea, experts note, is that hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers are not Mexicans  — they are Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Brazilians, Ecuadorans, and Haitians – and it is not clear why Mexico would agree to accept them.

Currently, these border crossers, once they enter the United States, can apply for asylum. The plan outlined in Kelly’s memos envisions these asylum seekers doing so from Mexico: The plan says that Mexico would likely build facilities to house these returned border crossers, and those among them who wish to apply for asylum in the United States would do so via videoconference calls with U.S. immigration officials from facilities in Mexico.

Former senior Mexican and American immigration officials said that another problem with the plan is that it may well create new security problems along the border, as U.S. and Mexican authorities try to push unwanted migrants back and forth.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association said that the proposal would violate U.S. law and international treaty obligations. Mexico is as likely to embrace the plan as it did the notion of paying for a wall. “I would expect Mexico to respond with an emphatic ‘No,’” Gustavo Mohar, a former senior Mexican immigration and national security policy official, told ProPublica.

The Kelly plan dramatically expands expedited removal, or summary deportation, of undocumented immigrants. So far, the enforcement of expedited removal has been limited to those immigrants apprehended within fourteen days of illegally entering the United States and within 100 miles of Canada or Mexico. The memos signed by Kelly would allow use of expedited removal anywhere in the country against anyone who entered illegally within the past two years.

Lucas Guttentag, a DHS adviser and Stanford law professor, said this would “unleash chaos,” violate due process, and face challenges in court, similar to those that scuttled the administration’s travel ban.

“Anyone who complained about Obama as the deporter-in-chief,” David Martin, formerly DHS’s principal deputy general counsel, told ProPublica, “is unfortunately going to get a taste of what it’s like when someone is really gung-ho.”

“The Trump people have clearly bought into the model of harsh enforcement. They apparently think, ‘we’ll be tough, and a lot of people will leave on their own,’” said Martin, an immigration law professor at the University of Virginia. “They believe they’ll win in the court of public opinion. I’m not sure about that. A lot of Americans know hard-working undocumented immigrants. The kind of enforcement Trump’s people are talking about will visibly create many more sympathetic cases than unsympathetic ones.”