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Kerry Bretz Comments on Department of Homeland Security’s Enforcement of Executive Orders Regarding Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants

Kerry Bretz, Partner, Bretz & Coven, LLP, is available to speak on the Department of Homeland Security exercising its powers in the deportation of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

On February 21, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a set of guidelines to carry out President Trump’s immigration policies. All immigration and border patrol officials have been instructed to detain and remove all undocumented aliens who have been convicted of a crime or charged with a crime, regardless of the seriousness of the offense. These guidelines expand the restricted guidance issued under the Obama administration, which focused its policy on the removal of non-citizens who were convicted of serious crimes, deemed a threat to national security, or recently entered the country.

The new priorities for removal include: (1) those who have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) those who have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) those who have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; (4) those who have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) those who have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) those who are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) those who, in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

Those who are protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) — both of which were successfully challenged by Congressional Republicans in federal court — will be exempted from removal.

DHS Secretary John Kelly recently signed a guidance memo that will give Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials the ability to expedite deportations for non-citizens who are unable to prove that they have been in the country for more than two years, located anywhere in the U.S. Comparatively, under the Obama administration, only those who were in the country for 14 days and were within 100 miles of the U.S. border were scheduled for removal. The memo also calls for the construction of more detention centers and the hiring of more immigration judges to relieve the backlog of these cases. In addition, those who attempt to smuggle their children across the border would either be deported or prosecuted for human trafficking.

The DHS is also enforcing the 278(g) program, also known as “Secure Communities,” which gives qualified state and local law enforcement personnel the authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, and conduct searches authorized under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, under the direction and supervision of the DHS.

“The Secure Communities program will alienate local law enforcement from the communities because non-citizens will be reluctant to report crimes and act as witnesses,” Mr. Bretz says. “Instead, they will be afraid of the police. Moreover, local law enforcement — from state police to the town sheriff — are not trained in immigration law. What happens when they make a traffic stop and hear Latino music or smell ethnic food? Will they ask them for their papers? Under the 278(g) program, the DHS — an agency notorious for its mismanagement and abuses — will give officers in the field even more discretion in enforcing immigration law. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

For more information, call (212) 267-2555.

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