US President Donald Trump issued new guidelines for immigration enforcement on Monday that dramatically expand the scope of people who will be pursued for deportation.
Under the new system, anyone convicted, or even suspected, of a minor crime will be prioritized for deportion. This means that a driving penalty can result in deportation.
Previously, only serious crimes were prioritized.
The newly released memos call for 10,000 more immigration and customs agents, more detention facilities, and the resurrection of a program that deputizes local and state law enforcement officers to carry out immigration enforcement duties, an arragement that had been sidelined under former president Barack Obama.
Another dormant program that allows the US to immediately deport recent arrivals to Mexico as they await court proceedings could also be resumed. This could also apply to Central American refugees who had fled to the US seeking safety.
The new orders do not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which covers millions of people known as Dreamers who came to the US when they were young and are now pursuing normal, law-abiding lives.
"We're gonna deal with DACA with heart," Trump recently told the New York Daily News in a phone interview.
However, DACA does not cover millions of other law-abiding immigrants at risk of deportation. And now even Dreamers could be ensnared in some minor incident that spirals into deportation.
“These memos confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities, and even protections for vulnerable children, in pursuit of a hyper-aggressive mass deportation policy," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. "However, President Trump does not have the last word here — the courts and the public will not allow this un-American dream to become reality.”