In Focus: DHS Empowered to Broaden Scope of Immigration Enforcement

By Roy Maurer Feb 21, 2017
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Undocumented immigrants suspected of committing a crime—including using false documents to gain employment—are now eligible for arrest and deportation, under new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance released Tuesday. Previously, convicted criminals were prioritized for deportation.

DHS Secretary John Kelly released memos to regulatory agencies Tuesday implementing President Donald Trump's Jan. 25 immigration enforcement executive orders. He signed the two memos to agency heads Feb. 17.

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The memos rescind all prior guidance relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, said Julie Pearl, CEO and managing attorney of the Pearl Law Group, based in the San Francisco Bay area. "They … signal that DHS will now enforce all immigration laws to their fullest extent, removing any possibility of case-by-case discretion."

The guidance also calls for hiring 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, instructs ICE to expand the program deputizing local law enforcement for immigration enforcement, and directs the agency to issue a weekly report containing the names and addresses of any immigrants in sanctuary areas on whom ICE has requested information. 

"The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program still remains in effect," Pearl said. But "the memo says, however, that the latter policy will be addressed in future guidance."

DHS Memos Illustrate More Aggressive Immigration Enforcement

The memos do not change the substance of President Trump's executive orders on immigration enforcement, but rather explain how the Trump administration plans to put those orders in place, signaling a tougher stance on identifying, detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants. (CNN)

ICE Conducts Surge of Immigration Raids

The guidance comes in the wake of large-scale immigration raids carried out at homes and workplaces across the country this month, and the arrests of nearly 700 undocumented immigrants, according to official estimates. (The Washington Post)

Immigrants Without Criminal Records Also Nabbed

DHS officials said the raids mostly resulted in detaining known criminals, but some immigrants without criminal records were also swept up, in a departure from similar enforcement of recent years. Of 678 people rounded up in 12 states during raids last week, 74 percent had been convicted of a crime, down from the 90 percent of detained people with criminal records in 2016, according to a USA Today analysis. (USA Today)

I-9 Paperwork Audits Emphasized by Obama Administration

Worksite raids were common during the administration of President George W. Bush. One of the first immigration enforcement policy changes undertaken by the Obama administration was to cease raids on employers and instead rely primarily on I-9 paperwork audits. (SHRM Online)

Preparing for Workplace Enforcement

While the pendulum now might be swinging back toward raids on employers, employers nevertheless can avoid big fines and prepare for worksite immigration enforcement actions by developing a comprehensive I-9 compliance program, self-audits and an investigation-day action plan. (SHRM Online)

Complying with Form I-9 Retention and Storage Requirements

Forms can be stored either onsite or at an offsite storage facility but must be presented to ICE inspectors within three business days of being requested. (SHRM Online)


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