tags: Press Releases

Friday Office Hours: Policy Experts Analyze the Leaked DHS Memo

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A recording of today’s call is available here

This morning, Associated Press reported that DHS Secretary John Kelly was considering the deployment of 100,000 National Guard troops to arrest undocumented immigrants in multiple states. While that issue has received enormous attention, as it should, the memo also proposes far-reaching immigration policy and practice changes in other areas, including border policy, detention, asylum, deportations and more.

This afternoon, top legal and policy experts dissected implications of the draft memo. A recording of today’s event is available here.

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of Refugee Protection of Human Rights First, said, “The Trump Administration is poised to continue its cruel policy of targeting refugees seeking protection from persecution and subjecting immigrants to arbitrary detention.  The draconian proposals in this memo set a poor example for the rest of the world and would undermine access to asylum.  The President’s order and this memo make clear that the plan is to hold asylum seekers in immigration detention facilities for the duration of their asylum proceedings regardless of whether that detention is even necessary.  Both the President’s executive order and this memorandum conveniently ignore the fact that there is a regional refugee and displacement crisis driving families and children to seek U.S. protection.  The Trump Administration’s immigration policies fly in the face of our nation’s values and laws protecting vulnerable asylum seekers.”

Kamal Essaheb, Director of Policy & Advocacy of National Immigration Law Center – Immigrant Justice Fund, said, “Throughout his campaign, Trump made a name for himself by espousing extremist rhetoric. Some of his supporters said his bark would be worse than his bite. We now know that was wrong. The raids last weekend and arrest of DACA-mented youth and domestic abuse victims reveal his xenophobic intentions. This memo should send a chill down the spine of anyone who believes in individual freedom. Enlisting the National Guard as an arm of immigration enforcement allows officers to round up anyone on the street who looks suspicious, creating a police state for millions of Americans. We urge the Governors identified in the memo to unequivocally say that they have no interest in separating families. Regardless of background or legal status, this new reality should terrify all of us.”

David Leopold, Immigration Attorney and former AILA President, said, “President Trump campaigned on three prongs: the wall; mass deportation of 11 million people; and a ban on Muslims. This is no longer just rhetoric – he is instituting these policies. The leaked DHS memo is the how-to-guide for mass deportation. It creates an unprecedented expansion of expedited removals. It would subject millions of immigrants to fast-track deportation without a court hearing – without any ability to make a meaningful application for asylum, contest evidence or approve eligibility for other forms of release. This memo also heavily tightens parole standards – a mechanism which has previously been used to allow spouses of active military members to obtain green cards while their spouses are deployed overseas. For a President who claims to be a military champion, he just slapped military families in the face. This memo is yet another extension of Trump’s reign of fear and terror.”

Chris Rickerd, Policy Counsel, National Political Advocacy Department, American Civil Liberties Union, said, “Like the administration’s Muslim ban, this leaked memo is a toxic combination of terrible policy and unconstitutional actions. The memo would implement a crackdown on migrants seeking protection as well as on border communities and well beyond.  One agency tasked to implement these misguided, radical changes – the Border Patrol – was not long ago called the most out of control law enforcement agency in America. Efforts to reform the Border Patrol with more transparency and independent oversight risk being reversed.  Border residents are vigilant about the excessive force and racial profiling abuses that accompany hyper-aggressive enforcement. The ACLU will uphold everyone’s rights against President Trump’s commitment to achieve mass detentions and deportations at any cost.”

Angela Kelley, Senior Strategic Immigration Advisor of OSPC, said, “This memo provides detail on a staggering set of policy changes that takes the country in an unprecedented direction,  while emboldened ICE agents are already operating untethered. We have seen nearly 700 people arrested and detained – including a Dreamer and a woman seeking protection from her abuser. Unfortunately, these policies are not surprising given his staff. Trump seems to be taking guidance from a playbook that has been sitting on the hard drives of restrictionists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions for years. Just 19 days into the Administration, immigrants and refugees have quickly become the bullseye of Trump’s assault.”