A new 90-day progress report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security outlines how the agency is planning on implementing the provisions of the Executive Order 13767 entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” signed by President Trump earlier this year. Although the progress report is only a preliminary assessment of how the agency will enforce the executive order, the report reflects what immigration enforcement might look like in the near future.
Securing the border: Regarding border security, the progress report outlines that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is taking immediate action to plan, design, and construct a physical wall on the southern border between the United States and Mexico. Specifically, the report states that CBP is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and construct prototypes to expand the southern border, and has submitted a request for funding from Congress for $20 million.
Detention Facilities: CBP has established additional detention facilities in Texas with enough space to hold 500 people at each location. The report recognizes that there has been a recent downward trend in illegal immigration and that these facilities will be in standby status in the case a surge in immigration develops in the future. CBP has also developed a “Migration Crisis Action” task force that is responsible for coordinating contingency plans so that the agency may have access to additional facilities to hold up to 12,500 undocumented immigrants.
Limits on Prosecutorial Discretion and Other Relief: ICE agents and officers have received field guidance instructing them to limit their use of prosecutorial discretion, and other relief such as the option of being released on bond. Detention facilities operated by ICE have expanded their resources adding 1,100 additional beds, and identifying 27 locations with the capacity to hold 21,000 additional beds.
Repatriation: The U.S. is currently negotiating an agreement with the Mexican government to repatriate undocumented persons back to Mexico pending removal proceedings. To conduct these removal proceedings remotely, the government has proposed establishing a video teleconference system which will cost an estimated $50,000 for each location. In addition, a modular trailer like system would be necessary to accommodate immigration judges who may hear these immigration cases remotely. The modular trailers would cost approximately $400,00 per location.
Increase in CBP Agents: To comply with the executive order, CBP has increased training and hiring of border patrol agents. CBP currently has 19,602 agents on board, and is working to increase this number to 21,270, the maximum number of agents authorized by law. The President has proposed additional funding so that the agency can meet its operational goals quickly. The agency is considering waiving the “polygraph” testing requirement for agents with a demonstrable “track record of integrity and service” who have maintained current background checks and have completed a polygraph test previously. The agency is also considering replacing the law enforcement pre-employment test with a test focused one identifying corruption elated issues, and removing the Spanish language proficiency test for agents.
Coordination between federal and local law enforcement: Among other things, ICE is conducting outreach programs in various jurisdictions throughout the Untied States to establish ways to coordinate federal and local law enforcement to facilitate the detention of undocumented immigrants.
Parole, Asylum, and Removal: As it relates to parole, asylum, and removal USCIS has hired and deployed additional immigration officers who will be tasked with detecting fraudulent applications and assessing national security risks. Thus far, USCIS has (1) established a centralizing screening and vetting center for asylum cases (2) issued revised guidance to asylum officers for the proper application of the screen standard for credible fear and reasonable fear cases, trained staff to conduct screening interviews (3) increased the number of detention facilities in Texas, Arizona, and California where asylum officers can conduct in-person credible fear and reasonable fear interview and (4) prepared a draft report on weaknesses in the asylum program and steps to remedy these weaknesses.
As it relates to parole, USCIS has provided the Office of the Secretary a report on the uses of parole, and a recommendation to terminate or modify current uses of parole. The Office of Policy and Strategy is currently working on new USCIS Policy Manuals explaining how USICS will apply its parole authority under the Executive Order.
At this time these proposals are preliminary. Senior officials have yet to approve many of these proposals, and have said that they will not comment on preliminary reports. The Trump administration will also need to cross a big hurdle, securing funding from Congress.
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