Greg Sargent notes that because the Trump regime has full control over enforcement of existing immigration laws, the damage Trump can do without Congress lifting a finger is immense. Those new enforcement directives are coming, and it's looking very much like mass deportations of millions will be happening sooner rather than later.
In other words, rather than previous administrations focusing on undocumented people with criminal records and those immediately caught crossing the border, nearly all undocumented immigrants in the US would be targeted for "removal" by Trump regime ICE. Just the crime of being an undocumented immigrant could be enough for deportation proceedings and removal, depending on what the new field guidance priorities are.
Over the weekend, two memos signed by new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were leaked to the media, revealing plans to dramatically expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who will be targeted for deportation under President Trump. Though the memos are not yet official policy, they suggest Trump’s vow of mass deportations could, in some form, soon become a reality.
But buried in the memos is a separate provision that is worthy of attention on its own. That provision, immigration lawyers tell me, raises the possibility that under Trump, enforcement officers will have an easier time than under President Obama of arresting undocumented immigrants who are in schools or hospitals or are seeking sanctuary in churches.
This would be politically explosive if it came to pass, and a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security just told me that the Obama-era protection of people in such venues will remain in place.
But immigration and civil rights lawyers tell me they still want to see a much firmer assurance to this effect once DHS formally announces the new deportation policies. And they say fears are already circulating in immigration communities that these protections will not meaningfully exist under Trump.
The worry arises from a line in one of the newly leaked memos stating that “all existing” Homeland Security “memoranda or field guidance” regarding enforcement “are hereby immediately rescinded,” with a few exceptions. What this means is that the Obama DHS memos implementing his enforcement priorities — in which longtime residents and low-level offenders were deprioritized for removal, focusing enforcement resources on criminals and recent border-crossers — are getting scrapped. This is in keeping with Trump’s recently released executive order doing the same and is the basis for the belief that a much bigger pool of undocumented immigrants will now be targeted for removal, meaning mass deportations are coming.
The only thing keeping this from happening is logistics at this point. Rounding up millions is going to take resources, it's too big of a job to just snap your fingers and do. But hey, scaring the crap out of existing undocumented folks so that they maybe self-deport? That only helps the Trump regime.
We'll see what happens, but the pieces are continuing to be put into place.