Trump's new deportation plan targets millions
"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," John Kelly said in one of the memos.
In a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigrants, Trump administration issued tough new orders on Tuesday, bringing the country's nearly 11 million undocumented foreigners in its cross-hairs.
According to the documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security, the president'a ambitions have been broadened as the new rules allowed: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.
This comes as a reference to the language Trump used on the campaign trail, vastly expanding the definition of “criminal aliens” and warning that such unauthorized immigrants “routinely victimize Americans,” disregard the “rule of law and pose a threat” to people in communities across the United States.
However, this create a shockwave and discomfort for US immigrant communities, where millions of people who have spent years building families and livelihoods in the country, most of them from Mexico and Central America, were seriously threatened with deportation for the first time in decades.
AFP report said that Rights groups labelled the move a "witch hunt", warning that a threatened "mass deportation" would damage families with deep roots in the United States and hurt the economy.
But John Kelly, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who issued the new orders in two memos, said they were necessary to address a problem that has "overwhelmed" government resources.
"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," he said in one of the memos.
Notably, the new rules make it easier for border patrol and immigration officers to quickly deport any illegal immigrants they find, with only a few exceptions, principally children. The priority will remain undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, as well as anyone who has been charged or potentially faces criminal charges.
"With extremely limited exceptions, DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement," the memos said. "All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States."
The memos followed up on President Donald Trump's order, made just after his January 20 inauguration, for authorities to crack down on illegal immigration by tightening enforcement and building a wall along the nearly 2,000 mile (3,145 kilometer) US-Mexico frontier.
In the memos, Kelly ordered immediate action to begin planning the wall. He also ordered the hiring of 15,000 more officers for the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.