During his campaign, President Trump made a regular promise to his ardent supporters: He would not only build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, he would also deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants living here illegally. Many pundits chalked those pledges up to the expected "over-promising" most politicians engage in, a necessary ruse to get themselves elected. However, Trump seems intent on following through with his mass deportations. On Tuesday morning, memos released by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly detailed a new set of directives that targeted for deportation almost all undocumented immigrants found within the United States.
Whereas President Obama focused deportation efforts and funding almost exclusively on capturing and removing criminals and recent arrivals, the new Trump order goes much further. American policy "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement." In other words, anyone who came into the country illegally, or overstayed on a visa, will now be subject for removal. This may in part explain the recent deportation of Guadalupe Garcia, a woman who came to the United States at the age of fourteen, was convicted of nothing other than falsifying papers in order to attain employment, had two American children, and was recently deported nevertheless.
There are other causes of concern for immigration rights supporters in the recently released memos. Based solely on their own judgment, immigration officials can now recommend for deportation individuals they deem "a risk to public safety or national security." Additionally, Trump has put a stop to the "catch-and-release" policy that let apprehended immigrants go after the necessary paperwork on them had been completed. Instead, anyone caught residing illegally within the country will be indefinitely detained. And that will necessitate the construction of massive detainment centers, a frightful prospect for anyone with a decent grasp of 20th century history.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has been cleared to staff up, with a directive to start hiring a supplemental 10,000 (!) agents. In addition, the Customs and Border Enforcement Agency will add an additional 5,000 employees to its roster. That's a grand total of 15,000 new government agents devoted solely to stopping illegal immigration and deporting undocumented immigrants living within U.S. borders. On top of all that, Trump is expediting the deportation process, removing the right to a court appearance for many more undocumented immigrants.
Deputy Director of America's Voice Education Fund Lynn Tramonte put out a statement on Tuesday, saying,
Increasing the number of federal agents and deputizing local law enforcement, making detention mandatory for more people, expanding a fast-track deportation process so that more people can be deported, quicker, eviscerating all common sense priorities for deportation – there’s no phrase more accurate than ‘mass deportation.’
It seems an inescapable conclusion that Trump will follow through on his promise of mass deportation, regardless of the moral and financial arguments against such an unprecedented endeavor. For those who oppose this new policy, the best bet to stop it is likely the 2018 mid-term ballot box.