Donald Trump's 'mass deportation plan' must be stopped, says Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer

It is 'a waste of limited resources, disrupts our economy, does nothing to keep us safe, and makes everyone a target', says the senior Democrat

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 22 February 2017 13:41 GMT
Chuck Schumer is the Democrat minority leader in the Senate
Chuck Schumer is the Democrat minority leader in the Senate (Getty Images)

A senior Democratic senator has lashed out at what he called Donald Trump's "mass deportation plan" and said it "must be stopped".

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said that the White House was planning to "round up and quickly deport anyone who is undocumented".

Memos released by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly showed the department plans to prioritise the removal of undocumented immigrants who "have been convicted of any criminal offence", following directives from the President.

This will include those who "have abused any programme related to receipt of public benefits".

Senator Schumer said: "No matter how much they deny it, it is clear that the White House is setting in motion their mass deportation plan, directing immigration agents to round up and quickly deport anyone who is undocumented.

"We can all agree that violent criminals should be removed, but it is outrageous and unacceptable for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target or arrest innocent immigrant families contributing to our nation and working to achieve the American Dream."

He added that it was "a waste of limited resources, disrupts our economy, does nothing to keep us safe, and makes everyone a target—causing panic within the immigrant community."

Mr Trump's sweeping immigration enforcement directives will allow for more deportations than those in place during the Obama administration, according to the memos released by the Department of Homeland Security.

Last month, the President signed two executive orders relating to the border with Mexico. The first directed the construction of a wall, despite the existence of some 700 miles of barrier already in place along the 1989 mile border.

The second boosted the number of border patrol agents and immigration enforcement officers who carry out raids and deportations. Mr Kelly’s memo essentially makes the latter into agency policy, and provides a framework for its implementation.

"Criminal aliens have demonstrated their disregard for the rule of law and pose a threat to persons residing in the United States. As such, criminal aliens are a priority for removal," Mr Kelly said in the memo, adding he had directed ICE to hire 10,000 more agents "expeditiously".

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The language of the memo opens the door for more wide scale deportation operations.

The Obama administration carried out the largest number of deportations - almost three million.

However, it prioritised undocumented immigrants who were convicted of serious crimes. The new DHS guidelines would allow ICE officers to remove a larger category of people, including those who have committed petty crimes.

In addition to the hiring of new agents, the DHS is looking to expand the number of detention facilities and establish a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office.

It would also revive a programme, known as 287(g), that would give local police the authority to act as immigration enforcement officers.

The directive will also expand expedited removals of undocumented immigrants.

Previously, US border patrol and ICE agents only had the authority to immediately remove people within 100 miles of the border who had been in the country for 14 days but the new policy allows for the quick removal of people who have been anywhere in US for up to two years.

Mr Trump took to Twitter to defend a series of immigration raids.

"The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise," he wrote. "Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!"

Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, said the raids were part of "routine" immigration enforcement actions.

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