In February, the Trump Administration issued a new set of guidelines for immigration and border security enforcement downplaying the President’s campaign promise to round up millions of illegal immigrants for mass deportations.
“We do not have the personnel, time or resources to go into communities and round up people and do all the kinds of mass throwing folks on buses. That’s entirely a figment of folks’ imagination,” an anonymous Homeland Security official said at the time.
Now, a new Homeland Security department internal document has been leaked to the Washington Post indicating the Trump Administration is, in fact, moving quickly to assemble a huge nationwide deportation force to do a mass round-up of undocumented U.S. residents.
The plan envisions ways to speed up hiring thousands more Customs and Border Patrol officers. Trump has said he wants Customs to hire 5,000 more agents and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to add 10,000 agents.
Homeland Security estimates that just 500 more agents would cost $100 million.
To get more officers aboard quickly, the document suggests they will relax standards for hiring, including the elimination of polygraph tests (to ensure they are truthful about their past) and in some cases, bypassing physical fitness requirements.
The document lays out plans to expand facilities for mass deportations by arranging for 33,000 more beds to house undocumented immigrants. It says most of those new beds have already been identified.
They are also in discussions with thousands of local police agencies who could be empowered under an obscure law to act on behalf of the immigration police, with the same expanded powers that ICE officers have when they do raids.
The document also lays out plans for a big increase in special courts to process the illegal aliens who are detained.
One idea is to use video conferencing in courts set up near border crossings to handle aliens from countries other than Mexico who would then be immediately deported to a Mexican jail. So far Mexico has refused to consider the idea.
The video equipment would cost about $50,000 per location.
So far Mexico has refused to consider the idea.
There is also an alternative plan to send judges to “port courts” to expedite the processing of cases. This would cost about $400,000 per location.
Congress is already balking at allocating $2.6 billion more for expanded enforcement as requested by Trump, and $1.5 billion for the first phase of the wall. Trump signed two Executive Orders in January shortly after taking office to expand border security efforts and enforcement.
There is also growing opposition from groups who work with immigrants. they point out the number of illegal border crossings has fallen sharply, which makes spending all these resources unnecessary.
“They’re throwing a lot of public resources at a problem that should not be a priority, especially since the number of crossers is down considerably,” Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies told The Washington Post.
In 2015, the last year for which there is federal data, the number of people deported was just over 333,000, the lowest number since 2007.
Since Trump took office promising a border crackdown, the number has fallen even more. At present, Homeland Security estimates they have about 2,100 spaces for those arrested which are not presently being used.
Trump has also indicated a willingness to cut a broad range of existing programs that help people in need, serve the elderly, subsidize schools and institutions, and much more, to cover the costs of an expansion of border security and the military.
There remain real questions about whether even then there is enough money to cover what he wants to do, and more to the point, if his crackdown is necessary at present or a good idea.
This all comes back to the screwed-up priorities of President Trump, who seems to be driven more by his own propaganda and prejudices than the nation’s real needs. This document shows that even as opposition mounts and funding is in question, Trump continues his crusade against the nations estimated 11 million undocumented residents.
He doesn’t recognize that the vast majority of them lead productive, peaceful and that they are a vital part of our economy. Trump’s demonization of immigrants in our country is nothing but racist scapegoating that flies in the face of every value our nation was founded on.