A summary of the administration’s enforcement changes:
Enforcement targets have expanded, enforcement tools have been sharpened, and enforcement locations have been widened, triggering pervasive fear of deportation and separation among immigrant families.
The single biggest change is the unwinding of enforcement priorities from the Obama administration, with ICE now instructed to arrest any individual they encounter who does not have lawful immigration status.
While ICE alleges that they are only targeting those with a criminal history or deportation order, they have also made clear that they will ask the immigration status of anyone in the course of an enforcement action and arrest nearly all those without proper documentation. This shift ensnares all sorts of people who have lived quietly in the U.S. for many years without incident while they work to support their families and integrate into society.
Immigration arrests are up by nearly 40%. ICE has increased its issuance of detainers by 75 percent, requesting that local law enforcement hold individuals in their custody so ICE can pick them up. And ICE has increased the number of people it places in removal proceedings by 47 percent.
ICE now has agreements with 59 law enforcement agencies (known as “287(g) agreements”) in 18 states, with plans to consider expansion to additional partnerships both near the border and deep within the interior of the country. Other localities—often called “sanctuary jurisdictions”—that opt out of full cooperation with ICE have been threatened with cuts to their federal funding.
The Department of Homeland Security may seek to add more tools to its toolbox. The “expedited removal” process, which currently applies to a 100-mile border zone and only to those noncitizens who have been in the U.S. up to 14 days, could be expanded to the entire United States as well and to those who have been here up to two years. To accommodate this shift, the administration is seeking to increase the hiring of Border Patrol and ICE agents and dramatically increase the number of detention beds, from a funding level of 34,000 beds in recent history, to as many as 51,379 beds.
The abandonment of enforcement priorities will also reap havoc on cases long-closed, as people who have been meeting their obligations to check in with ICE are taken into custody or who have had their court cases administratively closed seek to be re-calendared by ICE attorneys.
At risk now is the possible termination of the deferred action program (DACA) benefiting 800,000 young people raised in the U.S. and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 300,000 people allowed to live and work in the U.S. while their countries experienced armed conflicts and disasters.