Homeland Security Secretary John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE on Saturday signed sweeping guidelines giving federal authorities more power to aggressively detain and deport undocumented immigrants, The Washington Post reports.
According to the report, Kelly detailed plans in a pair of memos to hire thousands of new enforcement agents, widen the classification of immigrants who should be prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and use local law enforcement to make arrests.
“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated in the guidelines.
Kelly also said the new rules replace almost all previous rules issued under previous administrations on how deportations should be conducted.
Immigrant rights advocates told the Post that the two memos signed by Kelly mark a major shift in U.S. immigration policies by dramatically expanding the scope of enforcement operations.
The procedures outlined in the documents would allow authorities to push for expedited deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for up to two years, compared to the current timeframe of two weeks or less, the Post reported.
It would also allow for the immediate return of Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border pending their deportation hearings outcome, instead of housing them on U.S. property, and allows for potential prosecution of parents of unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America if they paid to have their children smuggled over the border.
Kelly's new guidelines echo campaign promises made by President Trump to tighten up immigration and to deport illegal immigrants.
A White House official said the memos were drafts being reviewed by counsel but did not offer specifics, according to the newspaper, while a DHS spokesperson did not dispute the documents' authenticity.
The memos don't include measures to utilize National Guard troops to apprehend immigrants in nearly a dozen states, which was included a draft document leaked to reporters Friday, a plan the White House has denied.