Deportation Nation: DHS memos outline Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’

Donald Trump promised voters he would do a lot of things “on day one” in office, but of course he was lying and failed to do so. On his first day in office, Trump broke 34 promises. One of these promises was the one to the nativist and racist anti-immigrant white voters who put him over the top:

“These international gangs of thugs and drug cartels will be, I promise you from the first day in office, the first thing I’m going to do, the first piece of paper I’m going to sign is we are going to get rid of these people day one,” Trump said on the campaign trail in August 2016. In October 2015, Trump said about Obama’s immigration deferred action executive action initiatives, “the first minute in office I will countersign and revoke those executive orders.” He vowed to move 2 million “criminal aliens” out of the country “my first hour in office,” in August 2016. The following month, Trump said he would “give a mandate to everybody, including the local police,” to get the “bad ones” out of the country, also in the first hour.

Didn’t happen. But after stumbling and bumbling through his first month in office, the Trump “Deportation Force” has arrived, and it is as bad as anticipated. New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions:

President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.

Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: 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.

The new enforcement policies put into practice language that Mr. 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.

Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans.

The president’s new immigration policies are likely to be welcomed by some law enforcement officials around the country, who have called for a tougher crackdown on unauthorized immigrants, and by some Republicans in Congress who have argued that lax enforcement encourages a never-ending flow of unauthorized immigrants.

But taken together, the new policies are a rejection of the sometimes more restrained efforts by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and their predecessors, who sought to balance protecting the nation’s borders with fiscal, logistical and humanitarian limits on the exercise of laws passed by Congress.

* * *

The immediate impact of that shift is not yet fully known. Advocates for immigrants warned on Tuesday that the new border control and enforcement directives would create an atmosphere of fear that was likely to drive those in the country illegally deeper into the shadows.

Administration officials said some of the new policies — like one seeking to send unauthorized border crossers from Central America to Mexico while they await deportation hearings — could take months to put in effect and might be limited in scope.

For now, so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, will not be targeted unless they commit crimes, officials said on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump has not yet said where he will get the billions of dollars needed to pay for thousands of new border control agents, a network of detention facilities to detain unauthorized immigrants and a wall along the entire southern border with Mexico.

And this is where our Tea-Publican Congress comes in. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, Trump’s mass deportations have arrived. But will Republicans pay for them?

The Department of Homeland Security has finally released a series of memos detailing how President Trump’s mass deportations will be implemented. As expected, they scrap most of the enforcement priorities put in place under President Barack Obama, and vastly expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who will now be targeted for deportation.

Which raises a question: Will congressional Republicans appropriate the money that this will cost?

The new DHS memos represent a massive change in the way the deportation machinery will now function. Under Obama’s DHS, the removal of low-level offenders and longtime residents with ties to communities was deprioritized, so limited enforcement resources could be focused on serious criminals and recent border-crossers. Now that is no longer the case, as Dara Lind explains:

Under the Obama administration, this meant “prioritizing” ever-more-narrow categories of unauthorized immigrants for deportation; by the end of the Obama administration, unauthorized immigrants living in the US who hadn’t been convicted of crimes were at pretty low risk of being deported.

That era is over. Under President Trump, the massive immigration enforcement “machine” of the US will now have nearly free rein to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants wherever it finds them.

Read Lind’s piece for more details on the various ways in which the new regime will seek to maximize the deportations of these lower-level offenders. But one of the most important includes tripling the number of removal agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, by adding 10,000 agents.

Today I spoke about the implications of this with John Sandweg, who for a time under Obama was acting director of ICE and acting general counsel of DHS.

Sandweg argues that vastly expanding the pool of targets for deportation is mostly about driving up the numbers of people being deported — by going after the lower-level offenders and longtime residents, or what he calls the “low-hanging fruit.” But that, he says, would divert resources away from going after the serious criminals and recent border-crossers.

“A lot of this is designed to put up numbers — but in doing so, you diminish the impact on public safety,” Sandweg says, adding that the new policies will “disproportionately impact non-criminals.”

Now, the way that Trump’s DHS will deal with this is by increasing the number of ICE agents — hence the tripling of them. But that is going to cost money. Sandweg estimates this could cost as much as $1 billion to $2 billion for the first year — because of hiring, training, equipment, and offices. Politico recently put the estimate even higher, at nearly $4 billion per year.

“Are Republicans going to give them the money?” Sandweg asks. “It’s on Congress now to fund this.” And Congress is already going to have to appropriate money to pay for Trump’s border wall. [Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: Internal report]

What’s more, Sandweg doubts that even these increased expenditures would secure results that are worth that additional money. That’s because in the end, a large chunk of these additional appropriations might end up getting spent on removing low-level offenders. “Getting 10,000 new agents is not going to get you one-for-one bang for the buck,” Sandweg says.

Of course, this would drive up the number of deportations. Which, at bottom, seems to be the real goal of the policy.

I’ve argued before that targeting low level offenders who have been here a long time for deportation is freighted with moral complications. Many came here to better their lives and those of their families in ways that are in sync with American history and values. Many have since developed longtime ties to communities and are currently contributing to American life. Deporting many of them will rupture families and communities. Yes, they broke the law, and the conservative argument that allowing them to remain rewards lawbreaking must be taken seriously. But they are more than mere lawbreakers — or, arguably, they have become more than mere lawbreakers — and these changing circumstances, too, deserve to be taken seriously in deciding what constitutes the most just response.

What’s more, it needs to be asked whether vastly stepping up deportations makes sense as policy — is this really in the interests of the United States? The core practical dimensions of the Trump administration’s response make it look highly questionable in those terms, too.

* * *

Over the long haul, it will be worth watching to see whether Republicans actually do appropriate the funds necessary to dramatically expand deportations. It also remains to be seen whether they’ll have the stomach for this if a great deal of press attention focuses on the plight of low-level offenders who are now under serious threat of deportation.

One last point: The current memos do not rescind Obama’s executive action protecting “dreamers” from deportation and awarding them work permits, under the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for DHS, tells me that for the foreseeable future, work permits will continue to be given out to DACA recipients. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “will continue to process DACA benefits as usual,” Christensen says.

So Tuesday’s outcome is not a total victory for the immigration hard-liners.

The early editorial response to Trump’s “Deportation Force” has been negative. The New York Times editorializes Mr. Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’ Prepares an Assault on American Values:

The homeland security secretary, John Kelly, issued a remarkable pair of memos on Tuesday. They are the battle plan for the “deportation force” President Trump promised in the campaign.

They are remarkable for how completely they turn sensible immigration policies upside down and backward. For how they seek to make the deportation machinery more extreme and frightening (and expensive), to the detriment of deeply held American values.

A quick flashback: The Obama administration recognized that millions of unauthorized immigrants, especially those with citizen children and strong ties to their communities and this country, deserved a chance to stay and get right with the law. It tried to focus on deporting dangerous criminals, national-security threats and recent border crossers.

Mr. Kelly has swept away those notions. He makes practically every deportable person a deportation priority. He wants everybody, starting with those who have been convicted of any crime, no matter how petty or old. Proportionality, discretion, the idea that some convictions are unjust, the principles behind criminal-justice reform — these concepts do not apply.

The targets now don’t even have to be criminals. They could simply have been accused of a crime (that is, still presumed “innocent”) or have done something that makes an immigration agent believe that they might possibly face charges.

Mr. Kelly included a catchall provision allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers or Border Patrol agents — or local police officers or sheriff’s deputies — to take in anyone they think could be “a risk to public safety or national security.” That is a recipe for policing abuses and racial profiling, a possibility that Mr. Kelly will vastly expand if Congress gives him the huge sums required to hire 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

He wants to “surge,” his verb, the hiring of immigration judges and asylum officers. He wants to add processing and detention centers, which surely has the private-prison industry salivating at the profits to come.

He wants to ramp up programs deputizing state and local law enforcement officers as immigration enforcers. He calls them “a highly successful force multiplier,” which is true if you want a dragnet. It’s not true if you want to fight crime effectively and keep communities safe. When every local law enforcement encounter can be a prelude to deportation, unauthorized immigrants will fear and avoid the police. And when state and local officers untrained in immigration law suddenly get to decide who stays and who goes, the risk of injustice is profound.

So is the danger to due process. Current procedure allows for swiftly deporting, without a hearing, immigrants who are caught near the border and who entered very recently. But Mr. Kelly notes that the law allows him to fast-track the removal of immigrants caught anywhere in the country who cannot prove they have been here “continuously” for at least two years. He’s keeping his options open about whether to short-circuit due process with a coast-to-coast show-me-your-papers policy.

He plans to publish data on crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, and to identify state and local jurisdictions that release immigrants from custody. Why? To promote the false idea, as Mr. Trump has shamefully done, that immigrants pose particular safety risks and to punish so-called sanctuary cities that, for reasons of public order and decency, are trying to disconnect themselves from ICE.

This is how Mr. Trump’s rantings about “bad hombres” and alien rapist terrorists have now been weaponized, in cold bureaucratic language.

Mr. Kelly promised before his confirmation to be a reasonable enforcer of defensible policies. But immigrants have reason to be frightened by his sudden alignment with Mr. Trump’s nativism. So does every American who believes that the country is, or should be, committed to the sensible, proportionate application of laws, welcoming to immigrants, and respectful of the facts.

Similarly, the Washington Post editorializes, The Trump administration’s blueprint for mass removals, with a streak of cruelty:

In the fiscal year that ended last fall, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended on the southwestern border was just a quarter the number in 2000 and less than half the annual count during most of George W. Bush’s administration. Although last year’s apprehensions in the Southwest rose from the previous year — largely because of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America seeking refugee status — the overall number was among the lowest since the turn of the century.

Nonetheless, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has somehow conjured what he called a “surge of illegal immigration at the southern border [that] has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States.” Mr. Kelly’s unfounded rhetoric is contained in a memorandum, released Tuesday, that provides an inventive rationale to justify the Trump administration’s overbroad expansion of deportation efforts. The effect of the new DHS guidelines is to sharply expand the pool of immigrants designated as priorities for deportation.

They do so by various means, including widening the targets of expedited deportation proceedings, until now limited to undocumented immigrants in the country for no more than two weeks and living within 100 miles of the border, to people who entered in the past two years and live anywhere in the nation — a cohort estimated at 800,000 to 1.1 million people. They also target not only people convicted of serious crimes but also those convicted of minor infractions, such as using a false Social Security number to get a job.

The guidelines’ subsidiary effects are just as concerning. They compromise law enforcement efforts in counties and cities nationwide by expanding efforts to deputize local police to act as federal deportation agents. That could chill cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and immigrant neighborhoods. The document sends a message of fear through many of America’s immigrant communities — not just the estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants, but also their spouses, children and other relatives living legally in the United States.

* * *

Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, likes to echo Mr. Trump’s comment that he has “a big heart,” the supposed evidence being that the DHS guidelines do not, for now, aim deportation efforts at ”dreamers” — the 750,000 young people given work permits and temporarily shielded from removal by the Obama administration. While that is welcome, in other respects a streak of cruelty runs through the new policy. For instance, it seeks to deter the entry of unaccompanied minors by threatening to prosecute parents if they paid smugglers to help their children cross the border. Deterrence is a fair goal if achieved by humane means. In this case, the administration’s policies will break up families and harm people leading peaceable lives.

Welcome to Trump’s Deportation Nation, the antithesis to everything you were raised to believe about America. The darkness descends.

11 Responses to Deportation Nation: DHS memos outline Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’

  1. “President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively…”

    How horrible of Trump. To actually enforce our immigration laws. Why the man is a monster. It is about time we have a President who wants the immigration laws enforced. It was years of non-enforcement that allowed the problem to reach the level it is now. I understand many of those being deported were shocked the laws are being enforced. That is a sad testimony to how previous Presidents enforced tjhe laws.

    “Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans.

    That is the classic liberal trick: Lump the illegal immigrants in with the ones here legally so as to skew any staistics as well as imply some sort of legitimacy for the illegal aliens. Why don’t you strip out the statistics for illegals aliens and crimes committed? You won’t because that picture is quite different.

    “The early editorial response to Trump’s “Deportation Force” has been negative.”

    What else is new? Editors are having a field day because the people they cater to – the left – hate Trump, so anything he does will spark outrage among editors. It’s a win-win for them. They get to slam Trump and get praise from the left.

    “So does every American who believes that the country is, or should be, committed to the sensible, proportionate application of laws, welcoming to immigrants, and respectful of the facts.”

    Since when do American need to be in line with liberal ideas? That is wishful and frightening thinking. And what does “proportionate application of laws” mean? To me that means if you break the law, you are punished appropriately. In the case of illegal aliens, that means deportation. Welcoming to immigrants? We have always welcome legal immigrants. My Wife was Canadian. I have personally sponsored nine individuals and their families to come to this country from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, financially helped support them during their initial stay until they were on their feet, and then worked with them to obtain their citizenships. Come here legally and I will welcome you with open arms. Break into my Country illegally and I want to see you deported. Respectful of the facts? I wish facts were used more often in this debate. Facts such as coming to this Country illegally is a CRIME.

    “And when state and local officers untrained in immigration law suddenly get to decide who stays and who goes, the risk of injustice is profound.”

    So your answer is to not do anything? That is ridiculous.

    “But they are more than mere lawbreakers — or, arguably, they have become more than mere lawbreakers — and these changing circumstances, too, deserve to be taken seriously in deciding what constitutes the most just response.”

    In other words, leave them alone and let them stay. Right? Since we can’t possibly decide who really deserves to stay, we need to let them all stay.

    “Welcome to Trump’s Deportation Nation, the antithesis to everything you were raised to believe about America.”

    On the contrary, America has, for the last 100+ years excercised it’s perogative to control who is allowed in. The fact that the last few Presidents (especially Obama) haven’t done their duty to enforce the immigration laws does not mean they were correct. A nation that loses control of it’s borders ceases to exist as a nation.

    • > The fact that the last few Presidents (especially Obama) haven’t done their duty to enforce the immigration laws does not mean they were correct. A nation that loses control of it’s borders ceases to exist as a nation.

      I am not sure by which metric you claim that Obama is especially prone to this. Under his tenure, the federal government processed somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 million individuals. Note that the president is bound by the funding which Congress gives to any particular program, and that given the limitations of the funding which Congress has provided for, the President, as chief of the Executive, has the authority and the responsibility to decide how those resources are allocated.

      If your sentiment is that Congress should have asked for more funding, or that resources should have been allocated away from the former president’s priorities toward picking up people off the streets and potentially creating a legal quagmire with regard to racial profiling, then say so. But I don’t think this portion is really an accurate interpretation of the facts.

      Also, given the historical events that led to European colonization of the Western Hemisphere, I am not really so sure that the issue is as clear-cut as you might like it to be in several cases. There are several tribal communities in Arizona whose ancestral lands were cleaved in two by the United States and by Mexico, splitting families apart by virtue of boundaries drawn by Westphalian Nation States. By what virtue can we morally enforce this arbitrary division of indigenous people from their own ancestral lands?

      • “Also, given the historical events that led to European colonization of the Western Hemisphere, I am not really so sure that the issue is as clear-cut as you might like it to be in several cases.”

        Thank you for reminding us of what happened to the Native Americans. They make my point perfectly. They were unable to defend their lands and they lost them. Any Nation that is unable, or unwilling, to defend it’s borders loses it’s Nation. We can stop illegal immigration but have lacked the will to do so. Trump is trying to re-establish that we are a Nation of laws and those laws need to be enforced. Mostly, we are a nation of immigants but we have a right to control whom we allow to come to this Country. This isn’t 100 or 150 years ago when we needed to fill huge tracts of land and needed to build our population. We have a large population and we can (and should) be selective about immigration today.

        “Under [Obama’s] tenure, the federal government [deported] somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 million individuals.”

        I’ll take your word at the numbers, but those numbers are low compared to other Presidents in the past. Border Patrol agents and ICE Agent all complained that orders from the top caused them to do “catch and release” at an unprecedented rate. Also, under Obama, hiring requirement for new agents were set so high that very few new agents were hired. The Unions for the agents complained bitterly that the standards were unrealistic. They cited many case where veterans who had held Top Secret clearances for years while in the Service were rejected for background clearances.

        “…the former president’s priorities toward picking up people off the streets and potentially creating a legal quagmire with regard to racial profiling, then say so.”

        I wouldn’t say so because that is not whay I meant. I am not in favor of “picking people up off the streets”. That is counter-productive to the goals of the Program. Rather, I am saying they should be picked up when discovered during the day to day haapenings of life. A traffice stop where a citation is to be issued for a traffice violation; when identify theft is discovered at the time applications for employment are made; when drivers licences are issued; when they are arrested for other crimes, whether misdemeanor or felony; the list is almost endless of times when these illegal aliens can be discovered and deported.

        Edward, it is always a pleasure to exchange messages with you! ;o)

  2. So how will we fill the newly opened jobs created by a mass deportation?
    Who will fill the currently thousands of open jobs, in agriculture, construction, that migrants do?
    Who will replace the Drs, lawyers, scientist etc. that will be deported?
    Will we deport the white illegals or just the darker skinned ones?

    It’s truly appalling that our government would even take such action. The vast majority of immigrants in our country are honest, hard working people that should be given a pathway to citizenship. The problem is how our government handles immigration, not the people seeking a safer place to live and raise their families.

  3. Sen. John Kavanagh

    If you do not like the immigration laws that President Trump is enforcing, with some discretion, you need to change them. Given that there was no will to legalize any of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. during any of the 8 years of the Obama administration, even during the first 2 years when Dems controlled all three branches of government, I see no legitimacy in the current opposition to President Trump’s actions.
    And by the way, what happened to only legalizing those with “deep roots?” You Dems now oppose Trump removing those who have been here for less than 2 years. Were you lying then about deep roots?

  4. Just saw a story on Raw Story about CPAC panel scheduled for Saturday featuring Arizona’s own Andy Biggs. The alleged purpose is to explore the relationship between Christian theology with Trump’s border wall. Now that is some extreme twist of Jesus and his message! Heaven has extreme vetting and a wall, so why can’t America? Let’s hope CSPAN can expose these idiots for what they are. A bigger stage for crazy Andy. Let’s hope sunshine does disinfect. Link below,
    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/conservative-cpac-gathering-gets-hilariously-mocked-for-heaven-has-a-wall-why-cant-us-panel/

    • I’m no Christian, but didn’t Jesus say something in the Bible to the effect of ‘Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself’ and ‘What thou does to the least of thee, thou does to me’?

      Damn. Must be misremembering something.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      OMG this is real. They really do have a CPAC panel on how heaven has extreme vetting and a wall so why can’t we!

      These good “Christians” are comparing “sinners”, people who they think have had their souls condemned for eternity with people coming here to work and feed their families.

      These Good Christians are using Jesus’s dad’s imaginary house as a rationale to do the exact opposite thing that Jesus commands them to do in the Book of Matthew.

      I was raised in a small mid-west town, went to church on Sunday’s, but I walked away for a lot of reasons, Right Wing Conservatives Christians pulling these kinds of stunts is a big reason why.

      Conservative Christianity is a scam, just like everything else on the right.

  5. finally a relevant post! what is to be done. this is what I am doing. I will refuse to sit on federal or state juries until until mrs garcia rayos is returned from mexico and if forced will find not guilty regardless of the situation. women are hiding in churches seeking sanctuary all over the country. the only difference between them and ann frank is they are not being sent to a concentration camp but it will still be dangerous for them in many cases.are we going to be like the good german liberals of nazi germany as paster neimoller said and do nothing or are we going to fight back? we can distrupt the legal system if you tell other angry democrats on Facebook and twitter to resist and refuse to sit on jurys it is where the power structure is most vulnerable to resistance.

  6. For Sure Not Tom

    Imagine taking 11 million people out of the economy.

    Even over a year or more, that’s a couple of million empty homes, millions of gallons of milk and gasoline not being sold every week.

    Walmart and other low price outlets lose 11 million customers, stores close, people are out of work.

    70 to 80% of food is picked/prepped by undocumented immigrants, so crops rot in the field (see Alabama after HB56).

    Racists don’t understand how Capitalism works or how expensive their irrational hatred can be.

    On lighter note, Trent Franks is warning that terrorists could be smuggling nuclear bombs into America hidden inside bales of marijuana.

    Because no one would ever think to look there!

    I swear to Jebus, all the smart conservatives go to Wall Street and the not smart conservatives go into Arizona politics.