By Rebecca Harrington / Business Insider | on 24 February 2017
Obama deported 3 million immigrants during his presidency — here's how Trump's new immigration order compares. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued new guidance on Tuesday outlining how his department will enforce President Donald Trump's executive order to crack down on immigration.
The goal is not "mass deportation" White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, but to eliminate exceptions that President Barack Obama's administration allowed to keep undocumented immigrants who weren't a threat from being deported.
"Remember, everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time," Spicer said at the press briefing on Tuesday. "The president wanted to take the shackles off individuals in these agencies and say: 'You have a mission. There are laws that need to be followed. You should do your mission and follow the law.'"
How does Trump's new immigration policy — and Kelly's implementation of it — compare with Obama's? We broke it down.
How many unauthorized immigrants are in the US?
How many did Obama deport?
During Obama's eight years in office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported over 3.1 million unauthorized immigrants. Most unauthorized immigrants who were apprehended inside of the country, not at the border, were convicted criminals, according to DHS.
In 2016, ICE officials removed 240,255 people, 58% of whom had criminal histories. Of the 65,332 people apprehended inside the country, 92% had been convicted of a crime, according to DHS statistics.
What's the same?
Trump left intact Obama's 2012 executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The action allowed immigrants under 31 who came to the US as children to apply for a deferred action, meaning the government won't deport them for two years and grants them the ability to legally work in the country. Applicants can reapply for DACA if they still meet the criteria. Citizenship and Immigration Services determines on a case-by-case basis if they can stay.
Obama tried to expand deferred action in 2014 to include the parents of green-card holders or of children who were granted DACA privileges, but the courts struck down that order, and the Supreme Court left in place that ruling in a 4-4 vote.
Protecting sensitive locations
The DHS policy preventing enforcement activities at "sensitive locations" remains in effect. These include schools, places of worship, hospitals, and public demonstrations like rallies. The policy is meant to allow unauthorized immigrants to go to these locations "without fear" of being apprehended and deported.
The Obama administration prioritized enforcement for convicted criminals, those who posed a danger to national security, and gang members. That won't change under Trump's order.
"All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," says a DHS Q&A about the order's implementation. "The guidance makes clear, however, that ICE should prioritize several categories of removable aliens who have committed crime, beginning with those convicted of a criminal offense."
Not just criminals
In short, Trump's goal is to deport more unauthorized immigrants than Obama did, faster.
The DHS Q&A repeatedly says that "all of those in violation of the immigration laws" — that is, anyone who has entered the country illegally — can be deported at any time.
Trump plans to hire 10,000 ICE agents, which could effectively triple the force, since the agency employed 5,700 deportation officers under Obama.
Kelly also outlined that the administration will encourage and train local law-enforcement officers to perform ICE duties, such as apprehending suspected unauthorized immigrants, under the 287(g) program. However, many mayors have declared their territories "sanctuary cities," where local law enforcement won't participate in the program.
The number of people subject to "expedited removal" will increase, meaning they will largely bypass court proceedings before being deported.
Under Obama, ICE agents invoked this authority when they apprehended unauthorized immigrants within 100 miles of the US border within 14 days of when they crossed it. Trump has expanded expedited removal to unauthorized immigrants who have been in the country for up to two years, no matter where they were apprehended.
Removing privacy protections
This policy, which Obama had left intact but Trump rescinded, dates back to President George W. Bush's administration. Bush had expanded privacy rights to include unauthorized immigrants' personally identifiable information collected by agencies such as DHS. Trump's administration will no longer enforce this.
The DHS memos direct federal resources to be used to expand detention centers for immigrants and to build the wall along the border with Mexico.
It's unclear how much each of these directives will cost, though a DHS internal report estimated the wall alone would cost $21.6 billion.
Trump's order changes the process for people claiming asylum in the US because they suffered persecution in the countries they fled based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.
Under Obama, asylum officers typically referred cases to the courts to decide. But Trump's policy directs the officers to determine whether an applicant has "credible fear" of returning to their country when deciding to advance a case.
"The goal of DHS is to ensure the asylum process is not abused," says a DHS Q&A on the policy. "Asylum officers are being directed to conduct credible fear interviews in a manner that allows the interviewing officer to elicit all relevant information from the alien as is necessary to make a legally sufficient determination."
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