By Steve Neavling
President Trump’s hardline approach to immigration is expected to lead to far more arrests of undocumented immigrants, even those without criminal convictions.
The plan is a radical departure from the Obama administration, which largely shielded millions of unauthorized immigrants without a criminal conviction.
Under Trump’s initiative, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will have the option of arresting anyone who is in the U.S. illegally, even if they have no criminal records, the Mercury News reports.
“They said that we can and should expect many more arrests and removals this year,” said House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, D-Whittier, who attended a Thursday night meeting between ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and congressional leadership.
Sanchez added, “Essentially anybody who has an immigration status violation is a priority for deportation.”
But supporters of Trump’s hardline approach applauded the changes.
“This removes a lot of the restrictions that were put on ICE agents,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“ICE is not going to have to wait for someone to commit a terrible crime or ignore someone that they encounter on the street,” Vaughan said. “They can go back to enforcing the law.”
Without clear priorities, the determination of detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions will fall to individual agents.
“It’s a recipe for chaos,” said Stephen Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who served as chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Barack Obama. “Without centralized priorities, enforcement can’t reasonably be uniform.”
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