The Department of Homeland Security issued tough new orders Tuesday to begin a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigrants, putting nearly all of the country’s 11 million undocumented foreigners in their cross-hairs.
Two memos issued by DHS Secretary John Kelly order border patrol and immigration officers to deport as quickly as possible any illegal immigrants they find, with only a few exceptions, principally children.
The priority for deportation will remain undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, but will also include anyone who has been charged or potentially faces criminal charges.
However, categories of illegal immigrants deemed as low priority by the previous Barack Obama administration -- generally anyone not tied to a crime -- are no longer protected.
“With extremely limited exceptions, DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement,” the department said.
“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States.”
Kelly ordered immediate action to begin planning and building a wall along the US southern border with Mexico.
He also ordered the hiring of another 5,000 officers for the Customs and Border Protection agency and 10,000 for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The orders effectively launch into action President Donald Trump’s promise to begin deporting millions of immigrants, mainly from Mexico and Central America, who had been tolerated during the Obama administration as law-abiding, longtime residents.