New directives on deportation and immigration enforcement

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — There’s a change in the immigration policy that may result in the deportation of more undocumented immigrants.

The revised policy may have some immediate effects on immigrants living in San Diego County.

New orders from the Department of Homeland Security will now give immigration agents expanded powers to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.

In San Diego County, an estimated 200,000 people are undocumented immigrants.

Related Link: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter on role of local law enforcement on immigration

Two new memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security suggest that the enforcement of federal immigration laws is about to change.

Yvette Lopez-Copper is an immigration attorney, who also teaches at the California Western School of Law. She said there’s nothing new in the law, but the memos give enforcement agencies like ICE and Border Patrol a different set of guidelines in deciding how to carry out the law.

One difference comes in the area of what’s called, "expedited removals."

Up until now, immigration agents set their sights on illegal border-crossers who had been in the country for only a few weeks. 

Now Homeland Security will consider the fast track deportation for people who have been in the U.S. even longer. 

Pedro Rios is the Director of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, a group that has been active in fighting for immigrant rights.

He said up until now, immigration agents kept their focus on apprehending dangerous criminals, recent arrivals and people considered national security threats. Other groups, such as families were low priorities.

Rios said he’s worried that language in the new directives will be used to deport more people, people who were not on the radar of immigration agents before.

Related Link: How the new immigrant order will affect the local Muslim community

Representative Duncan D. Hunter said the Trump Administration is taking strong, decisive steps to root out those who don’t belong here.

It’s too early to say how these policies will translate to enforcement actions on the ground. 

Rios said he’s already hearing about a change in attitude about more people, including legal residents who are being stopped by immigration for questioning. 

What’s not clear, at least at this point, is what happens to immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, the so-called "dreamers" who were granted a temporary reprieve from deportation under the Obama Administration.

Related Link: KUSI’s full coverage on immigration 

President Trump has publicly said he loves the dreamers and wants to handle their situation with compassion. But going forward, the latest memos leave the door open to rescinding any exemption for those children. 

Categories: Local San Diego News