In the midst of the nationwide resistance to No. 45's travel ban for seven Muslim-majority countries, we overlooked one very important aspect of his anti-immigrant and pro-deportation agenda: How will it be implemented?
Last night (Feb. 21), the Department of Homeland Security rolled out No. 45's immigration implementation plan. The good news? He is keeping DACA. The bad news? It seems like all other barriers to deportation have been relaxed. Anyone without U.S. papers is free game, and federal enforcement agents have the ability to arrest, detain, and deport anyone they deem to fit the bill.
John Kelly, Director of Homeland Security, has signed new guidelines for federal employees on enforcing deportation and immigrant detention at aggressive new levels. According to the Washington Post, the plan is made up of:
- Hiring thousands of new enforcement agents;
- Expanding the pool of immigrants prioritized for removal;
- Speeding up deportation hearings, and;
- Enlisting and empowering (deputizing) local law enforcement to make arrests.
As of February 18, 38 law enforcement agencies were already collaborating with ICE. According to a survey done in December 2016, the overwhelming majority of counties surveyed were already helping ICE find and detain immigrants in those areas.
So, state-level law enforcement was already colluding with federal groups to target immigrants, but the level of anxiety and fear has gone through the roof since 45's Executive Order. The EO effectually made everyone a criminal.
WHAT IS THE PREDICTED IMPACT?
According to Vox, 45's plan -- and perhaps the most concerning aspect -- is to "deport now; ask question later." As in, he wants to send people back "where they came from" while their charges are still pending. Detention is incredibly costly, so apparently the solution comes at the expense of human lives. The memo even allows the government to deport families seeking to be reunited.
Not only will millions be deported, but the government will have to shell out billions to expand their reserves of ICE agents (including border agents) and local law enforcement to carry out this agenda. And, of course, there is no clear plan for where those dollars will come from.
As usual, it appears that 45 and his administration have failed to think ahead. The U.S. Constitution protects all people; not just U.S. citizens. If these individuals are treated unconstitutionally and inhumanely on our soil, they can sue the U.S. Government for recourse.
Our favorite Press Secretary, the one and only Sean Spicer, has repeatedly lied about and exaggerated unauthorized immigrant trends. He has claimed that in the past few year the number has been dramatically increasing. Um, no. Check the numbers. The unauthorized immigrant population has been stable for the past five years or so, with the number of those coming from Mexico actually decreasing. Thanks, Obama!
WHAT THE HECK DO WE DO NOW?
One idea is to pressure your state-level representatives to limit police power as much as possible so they don't have the ability to team up with ICE. Ask your politicians to increase the number of sanctuary areas in your state, and to publicly support sanctuaries. Local and state representatives are easier to hold accountable. Many of you know them personally, or have a connection to them. They have more to lose, in many cases, than do federal representatives. Get online and search for office information. Make a phone call, or, better yet, make a meeting.
- Call your governor - Check out our post from 02/19 on how to reach them.
- Call Speaker Paul Ryan, or write him a postcard.
For more on the results of "Trump's First Roundup," check in with the Marshall Project and with The Skimm, who has a great tool for following immigration policies in this dumpster fire of an administration.