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DHS Memos: Speed Up Mass Deportations & Prosecute Parents Who Help Undocumented Children Enter U.S.

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has drafted and signed sweeping new guidelines to speed up the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. The memos instruct federal agencies to begin hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, as well as 5,000 more Border Patrol agents. They also detail plans to accelerate deportation hearings and to expand the number of people prioritized for removal from the United States. McClatchy is reporting hundreds of thousands more undocumented immigrants in the United States would be subject to what’s known as expedited removal proceedings to get them quickly out of the country. According to McClatchy, children who arrived in the United States as "unaccompanied minors" would no longer be protected against deportation, and their parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring their children across the border. For more, we speak with Franco Ordoñez, White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau. His latest article is "DHS chief proposes prosecuting parents of children smuggled into U.S."

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has drafted sweeping new guidelines to more aggressively detain and deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. The memos instruct federal agencies to begin hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, as well as 5,000 more Border Patrol agents. McClatchy is reporting hundreds of thousands more undocumented immigrants in the United States would be subject to what’s known as expedited removal proceedings to quickly get them out of the country. According to McClatchy, children who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors would no longer be protected against deportation, and their parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring their children across the border. Homeland Security Director Kelly has signed off on the memos, but White House officials say they are not official yet.

Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests. Franco Ordoñez is a White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau. His latest article is "DHS chief proposes prosecuting parents of children smuggled into U.S." And Tim Warden-Hertz is the directing attorney for the Tacoma office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Welcome, both of you, to Democracy Now! I’d like to begin with Franco Ordoñez. Tell us about these memos that you uncovered and what specifically they say.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: They’re pretty—they’re pretty amazing. I mean, as you pointed out, they dramatically increase the number of immigrants who could be targeted for deportation. Essentially, they wipe away many of the prosecutorial discretion, many of the protections that President Obama had put in place. And as you noted, many of the children who were unaccompanied minors, if they arrived here and were reunited with a parent—and the White House says it’s about 60 percent of them do—they may not get those same protections after they’re reunited with their parents. And the parents themselves, they could face prosecutorial—pardon me, they could face prosecution, because the way the White House sees it, or at least according to these memos, these draft memos, they are aiding and abetting human traffickers by paying them to bring their children over. So many more people would be targeted. The idea is that the expedited removal would be incredibly expanded. And currently it’s about two weeks you can expedite remove someone. This order says that it would be two years. So we’re talking tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people could be removed very quickly, according to these orders.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, what does it mean? The White House is claiming that these are only drafts, yet the homeland security secretary has signed off on them. Could you explain the difference in the definition here?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: It’s a great question. It’s the same question that I had for the White House. I was actually talking with the White House last night about that. And the way that the White House explained it to me is, essentially, these orders are, quote-unquote, "the final cut" of the Department of Homeland Security. However, they are—they apply to Donald Trump’s executive order, therefore they have the final say. And according to the White House, they had some questions. They had some issues with some of the language. They didn’t say what specifically. They wouldn’t give me the details, but that they are working with the Department of Homeland Security to kind of iron out those differences, do their due diligence. You’ve got to remember, as you pointed out, we’ve had so many protests. The travel ban was blocked by the Seattle federal judge. I think they’re trying to be a little bit more careful. They don’t want that type of—they don’t want that experience again. And I can assure you, I’ve talked to lawyers and the advocacy community, and they’re getting ready to fight this, as well.

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