WASHINGTON: US Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly had empowered federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants, the reported US media.
The order targets the immigrants already inside the United States as well as those arriving at the border, The Washington Post reported.
Another media report claimed that the Trump administration was considering a proposal to mobilise as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants.
The White House, however, said it had no plans to use troops to deport immigrants and that the report was “100 per cent not true”. But the Associated Press, which released the second report, said it had a copy of the draft memo.
“The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana,” the news agency reported.
The Washington Post, which also obtained a pair of memos, said the Trump administration planned to expand the pool of immigrants who were prioritised for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law-enforcement personnel to help make arrests.
The administration also planned to hire thousands of additional enforcement officers. The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations.
A White House official told The Post that the memos were drafts and the process was not complete yet. It reported, however, that the memos were implementation blueprints for the Department of Homeland Security, formally establishing the new policies and directing agency employees to begin following them.
Immigrant rights advocates told The Post that the two memos marked a major shift in US immigration policies by dramatically expanding the scope of enforcement operations. The new procedures would allow authorities to seek expedited deportation proceedings, currently limited to undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for two weeks or less, to anyone who has been in the country for up to two years.
Another new provision is about immediately returning Mexican immigrants who are apprehended at the border back home, pending the outcomes of their deportation hearings, rather than housing them on US soil.
The guidelines also aim to deter the arrival of a growing wave of 155,000 unaccompanied minors who have come from Mexico and Central America over the past three years. Under the new policies, their parents in the United States could be prosecuted if they are found to have paid smugglers to bring the children across the border.