Trump's not making America great again or safer
© Getty

This week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a series of memos that detailed the procedures for enforcing President Trump’s executive orders on immigration signed in late January.

The memos were accompanied by a public relations campaign to assure the public that these new guidelines were based on enforcing existing laws and not the beginning of a mass deportation force, as many have feared.

However, while the DHS memos do not immediately call for massive deportations, they do put in place the mechanisms to make these deportations a reality. Caught in the crosshairs are millions of undocumented immigrants—some with U.S. citizen children—who are fearful of the imminent separation from their families.


The most troubling of these memos is the return to the Secure Communities Program that was discontinued in 2014. Before 2014, immigrants were terrorized by the enforcement guidelines under the program where thousands of undocumented immigrants were thrown into deportation proceedings for minor infractions such as driving without a license.

In response, President Obama established the Priority Enforcement Program to ensure that those being deported were actual criminals who posed a threat to the safety and well-being of our communities. Priority enforcement has allowed non-threatening hardworking immigrants to continue providing for their families while they wait for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Without the prioritization of violent criminals, virtually every undocumented immigrant is an enforcement priority. Those accused of a crime or even suspected of breaking the law will soon find themselves in deportation proceedings.

Without the Priority Enforcement Program in place, mixed status immigrant families that are paying taxes, working hard, and contributing to our society will soon see their families torn apart.

Coupled with the elimination of enforcement priorities, the memos also call for a massive increase in the number of border patrol and ICE agents. In addition, DHS will recruit local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law in their communities.

Many of these new immigration agents, particularly those coming from local law enforcement, may not be familiar with the nuances of immigration policy, yet will now wield broad discretion over which immigrants are ultimately deported.

When local law enforcement officers are forced to become immigration agents, the safety of all communities—not just those with immigrants—is put in jeopardy.

Under the Secure Communities Program, undocumented immigrants refused to collaborate with the police on public safety issues or criminal investigations because they saw the police as deportation officials. Law enforcement knows that the program made the community less secure because they could no longer effectively do their job of protecting the community due to the lack of collaboration from immigrants who were victims of crimes.

Law enforcement officers should not be politicized to serve the dangerous immigration agenda of the Trump administration. It is clear that this administration does not want to invest in common-sense solutions that address our broken immigration laws.

In the meantime, our communities will be subjected to more raids, more deportations and more separation of families under the Trump administration. Instead of making us safer, these DHS memos only expose us to more danger—the danger of forgetting America’s immigrant heritage and eroding basic American values.

Brent Wilkes is the executive director of the League of Latin American Citizens, which advocates for the political, economic and educational rights of Hispanic Americas. Follow him on Twitter@BrentWilkes. Follow LULAC on Twitter @LULAC

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.