On January 25th, President Trump signed and executive order “Enhancing Pubic Safety in the Interior of the United States.” Early this week, Department of Homeland Security Director John Kelly issued a memo further defining removal priorities of the undocumented. Although the new policy memo expands the deportation priorities to almost all undocumented immigrants, the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) remains in tact for now. Kelly states “the Department shall faithfully execute the Immigration Laws of the United States against all removable aliens.” Regarding prosecutorial discretion, DHS is directed to initiate removal proceedings against “any alien subject to removal under any provision of the INA.” Clearly every undocumented person is at risk for deportation (with the exception of those who have DACA approval)
With limited resources, it is unlikely that the current number of CPB, ICE, and USCIS officers and officials will allow for mass scale deportation. The priorities are meant to define individuals that the Department should seek out for deportation. Individuals who have been convicted of any criminal offense, charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved, or have committed acts that constitute a criminal offense are priorities for removal. Criminal offenses are not defined and can presumably be anything from driving without a license to aggravated felonies. Other priorities for deportation are those who engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connected with any official matter before a government agency, anyone who has abused any program related to receipt of public benefits, subject to a final order of removal but failed to leave, or those who pose a risk to public safety or national security. Within these categories, DHS is directed to fast-track removal of Criminal Aliens, bypassing the Immigration Court for any noncitizen convicted of an aggravated felony. To quote Trump “Were getting really bad dudes out of this country and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before. . . And they’re the bad ones. And its a military operation.”
Enforcing the Immigration Laws of the country also includes the due process afforded to legal permanent residents and undocumented persons that meet certain criteria. In many most cases, undocumented persons are allowed a hearing before an immigration judge. There are certain defenses and waivers are available for some (not all) grounds of . Make sure you talk to an immigration lawyer experienced in removal hearings if you come to the attention of any ICE, CBP, or USCIS official and are eligible for deportation.