What Homeland Security's new policies mean for immigrants in MN illegally

Several Twin Cities churches have extended offers of sanctuary after the new immigration plans were unveiled on Tuesday.

New policies unveiled by the Trump administration this week signal a change in the way immigration enforcement will be conducted in the United States.

This memo, signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and released publicly on Tuesday, describes in more detail how the DHS will go about implementing President Donald Trump's January executive order for tackling immigrants in the country illegally, with a focus on criminal immigrants.

It has prompted a fearful response among immigrant communities, with the Star Tribune reporting that several Twin Cities churches have extended an offer of sanctuary to them in response.

Here are some of the key points from the memo:

Deportation for ALL criminal offenses

One of the key points of the memo is that the government "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement."

Rather than focusing mainly on gang members and serious criminals as was the case under the previous administration, the New York Times explains immigration agents can now prioritize anyone charged with or convicted of any criminal offense, even minor oneICs such as traffic violations, as well as those who are found to have "abused" a public welfare program.

Those already ordered deported but who had their removal postponed by previous administrations also now face enforcement, even if they don't have a criminal record.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told ABC the priority will be removing those deemed a threat to public safety or who have committed crimes, but added that "mass deportation is not the goal."

Changes for 'sanctuary' cities

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, will from now on publish weekly reports about state and local authorities that release undocumented immigrants from jails, which is being seen as the administration taking a shot at cities with so-called 'sanctuary policies."

Local law enforcement in such cities don't automatically pass on information about undocumented immigrants who have been arrested or charged with crimes to ICE.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have some sanctuary policies, but they don't have one that blocks police from turning immigrants in the country illegally over to ICE.

End of catch-and-release

The memo also reveals plans to end "catch and release" policies at the Mexico border, whereby those who are caught entering the country illegally are released to stay in the country while their asylum applications are processed – which can take a long time.

FOX News reports that this sometimes ends with immigrants "absconding" and failing to appear at future removal hearings.

Expedited removal

A law passed two decades ago allows customs authorities to deport unauthorized immigrants without having to put them before a judge. Previously this was applied to those caught within 100 miles of a border and who had arrived in the past two weeks, but it will now be expanded.

CNN reports if someone can't prove they have been living in the U.S. continuously for two years, they could be eligible for expedited removal. The New York Times says the ACLU plans to challenge this, calling it unconstitutional.

Who won't be affected?

While there are fewer protections in place for adult immigrants who are here illegally, some special protections will be retained that allows children to stay.

The memo says "unaccompanied alien minors" who arrive in the country will be processed and enter the refugee resettlement program, which would entitle them to access to care facilities and social services. It also means they wouldn't be subject to "expedited removal," with any deportation proceedings having to happen through the courts.

Parents who help with the smuggling of their children into the country, however, could face prosecution, with the memo saying "the smuggling or trafficking of alien children is intolerable."

Also protected are the "Dreamers," the 750,000 or so people brought into the country as children and since given work permits and temporary protection from deportation under former President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

These people are not mentioned in the memo, with President Trump saying just last week that he promises to treat DACA "with heart," Politico reports.

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