In the first month of President Donald Trump's administration, he signed executive orders regarding immigration policies that upset many Americans. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has begun steps to enforce these policies, which includes deporting all immigrants from the Mexican border to Mexico, regardless of their country of origin.
DHS Secretary John Kelly sent memos to staff Monday on procedures regarding the enforcement of Trump's immigration orders. On Tuesday, the memos were made public.
Right now, undocumented immigrants are detained in the U.S., according to ProPublica, and can request asylum. A DHS officer said that immigrants would still be able to request asylum, but would need to wait in Mexico rather than the U.S. Therefore, immigrants from countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti, who may be fleeing violence, are being sent to Mexico, according to CNN.
And once they're in Mexico, how would the migrants work with the U.S. to potentially go through the asylum process? According to ProPublica, the initiative would require immigrants to communicate with U.S. immigration officials through video conference. This is implying that Mexico would need to provide such facilities for immigrants waiting to enter the U.S., who aren't necessarily Mexican. Apparently, those details still need to be worked out between the U.S. and Mexico.
Passing immigrants off to Mexico probably isn't the most effective way to enforce immigration or foster a relationship with Mexico. The tension between Mexico and the U.S. has increased following Trump's executive order to build a wall along the southern border, and his insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall eventually; this doesn't seem like it's going to go smoothly. Also, telling Mexico that they should house immigrants that the U.S. doesn't want to deal with is a pretty bold move that isn't likely to end well.
Kelly's memos also instruct Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize many unauthorized immigrants who are currently in the U.S. for deportation. According to Vox, Kelly's memos also require the government to increase its ability to detain immigrants and those close to the border. This would mean allowing local law enforcement to arrest immigrants.
However, the DHS claims that this will not result in mass deportations. According to The Washington Post, a senior DHS official told reporters, "We do not have the personnel, time, or resources to go into communities and round up people and do all kinds of mass throwing folks on buses. That's entirely a figment of folks' imagination."
Perhaps, but the guidelines described in the memos still indicate a serious ramping up of deportation rules and procedures with the goal of cracking down on undocumented immigrants. We'll have to wait to see how it actually plays out.