Secretary of Homeland Security: Memoranda on the Implementation of Recent Border Security and Interior Enforcement Executive Orders

On February 21, 2017, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued two memoranda to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in an effort to provide additional guidance on recent Executive Orders regarding border security and immigration law enforcement. The first memorandum implements the Executive Order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” while the second addresses the Executive Order titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.”

As stated by Secretary Kelly, the first memorandum seeks to,

“…inform enforcement and removal activities, detention decisions, administrative litigation, budget requests and execution, and strategic planning.”

The Secretary goes on to outline specific departmental enforcement priorities, which include eliminating the practice of excluding classes or categories of removable aliens from enforcement, and prioritizing the

“…removable aliens who: (1) have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; (4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

Additional highlighted topics include guidance on strengthening preexisting programs to facilitate the execution of U.S. immigration laws, establishing the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOIVE) Office, increasing the number of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers and agents, and collecting and reporting data related to the apprehension and release of aliens.

The second memorandum outlines the implementation of the President’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order, which established policies regarding improved border security and immigration enforcement through the execution of U.S. laws. Additionally, this Executive Order implemented new policies meant to,

“…stem illegal immigration and facilitate the detection, apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens who have no lawful basis to enter or remain in the United States.”

The 13 page memorandum highlights the polices described in Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (which discusses the apprehension and detention of aliens), the need to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol Agents, border wall funding and construction, and the prioritization of criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses occurring at the border. The memorandum also offers guidance on the proper processing and treatment of unaccompanied alien minors and highlights accountability measures to protect alien children from exploitation.  He states that,

“The parents and family members of these children, who are often illegally present in the United States, often pay smugglers several thousand dollars to bring their children into this country. Tragically, many of these children fall victim to robbery, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other crimes of violence by the smugglers and other criminal elements along the dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States. Regardless of the desires for family reunification, or conditions in other countries, the smuggling or trafficking of alien children is intolerable.”

Secretary Kelly’s memoranda offer a look into the new administration’s immigration policies and the mechanisms through which they plan to implement them.  Visit the links below to view each memorandum in its entirety.

Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies

Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest