By Briana Vannozzi
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today told the media President Trump is empowering the Department of Homeland Security to carry out his executive order on immigration.
“This morning Secretary Kelly and the Department of Homeland Security released memos regarding the implementation of two of the president’s executive orders that are designed to protect the homeland,” Spicer said.
The memos call for swift action in identifying, detaining and deporting unauthorized immigrants.
Out of the country’s 11 million immigrants living here illegally, it prioritizes enforcement for those charged, convicted or suspected of a crime. Under President Obama’s order only those convicted of serious crimes were considered a national security threat. It calls for the hiring of 10,000 more ICE agents, an additional 5,000 more border patrol agents and 500 more air and marine officers.
“What the order sets out today, it ensures that the million or so people that have been adjudicated already, that ICE prioritizes — creates this system of prioritization,” Spicer said.
It also calls for the beginning phases of planning the border wall expansion between the U.S. and Mexico — a long talked about campaign promise — and increases the ability of local police departments to help enforce immigration laws.
But the White House also went to great lengths emphasizing it’ll keep protections in place for more than 750,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children, known as DACA.
The American Civil Liberties Union called it an aggressive attack in a statement: “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. 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,” said Omar Jadawat, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.
“Remember, everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time. That is consistent in every country — not just ours. If you’re in this country in an illegal manor there is obviously a provision that can ensure that you can be removed. But the priority that the president’s laid forward and the priority that ICE is putting forward through DHS’ guidance is to make sure that the people who’ve committed a crime or pose a threat to public safety are the priority of their effort,” Spicer said.
But immigration rights groups are already fearful of the repercussions. 32BJ SEIU is one of the largest immigrant worker unions in the country.
“We believe that in order to defend the rights of all workers, millions of undocumented men and women who are already part of our communities must be brought out of the shadows and given protection under the law. The current administration’s ‘deport everyone’ approach is not only an affront to our values as a nation of immigrants but is already punishing hardworking families who are deeply rooted in our communities,” said Kevin Brown, vice president of 32BJ SEIU.
The administration is also creating the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office. You’ll recall then-candidate Trump, while on the campaign trail, regularly talking about the crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants. This office will help the victims and families of those crimes. And it also puts an end to what’s known as catch and release. Now, once an unauthorized immigrant is caught, they’ll be detained until their cases are resolved.