US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia on February 9, 2017. (REUTERS/BRYAN COX)
February 23, 2017
Many undocumented immigrants in the United States are on edge since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) outlined policies to increase immigration enforcement. The guidelines, which would expedite the process of detaining and deporting people, have put the future of the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in question.
The Trump administration says the priority is not mass deportation, and that authorities are targeting individuals who have criminal records. The DHS fact sheet states people in violation of immigration laws could also be subject to arrest, detention and even deportation.
Former President Barack Obama, who drew criticism for deporting more undocumented immigrants than any other administration, maintained authorities under his watch only targeted convicted felons, national security threats and recent arrivals. By the end of his presidency, more than 2.7 million immigrants had been deported, 90 percent reportedly being convicted criminals. Some policy observers say the Obama administration paved the way for the Trump administration’s plans.
Before Trump’s new policy was made public, immigration officials reported the arrests of 680 undocumented immigrants in a five-day nationwide operation. The DHS said “approximately 75 percent” of the people arrested were “criminal aliens.” DHS did not specify what the crimes were.
The DHS guidelines and recent arrests have left many families on high alert. Immigration advocates have been speaking out and providing resources to those who have been or might be impacted. So, what is next for the country’s undocumented?
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Avideh Moussavian @AvidehNILC
Policy attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Jessica Vaughan @JessicaV_CIS
Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies
Cesar Vargas @DREAMerJ_D
Co-Director, Dream Action Coalition
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.