Department of Homeland Security Releases Immigration Memos

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Department of Homeland Security Releases Immigration Memos

 By: Jacquelyn Larson

On Monday, Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary John Kelly issued two memos regarding implementation of President Trump’s illegal immigration policies. The memos outline DHS’s priorities and plans for addressing illegal immigration.

In the first memo, “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest,” Secretary Kelly directs ICE to hire an additional 10,000 officers and agents. The memo prioritizes the removal of specific classes of removable aliens, particularly in seven categories including aliens who have been charged with or committed criminal acts or who have abused public benefits programs.  The memo also states the intent to expand two programs:  the ICE Criminal Alien Program, which focuses on the removal of incarcerated aliens, and the INA 287(g) Program, which allows state or local law enforcement officers to be effectively deputized with the authority and duties of immigration officers.

In the second memo, “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies,” Secretary Kelly narrowed the DHS policy regarding detention and release of aliens, directing that releases from detention should only be permitted when the alien is being removed from the United States or when expressly required by the law. Secretary Kelly also directs the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 500 Air & Marine Agents/Officers.  This memo specifically focuses on the United States’ border with Mexico, and directs implementation of the President’s orders to identify and quantify all sources of aid to Mexico, commission a study of border security, and begin planning construction of a wall. Finally, the memo prioritizes criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses committed at the border, and directs expanding detention capabilities and capacities along the southern border.

The memos do not contain the more extreme language previously rumored, such as deputizing the National Guard. Further, it will be up to the agencies mentioned to put these new priorities into action, so changes will not be immediate.


These memos will only add to the current fears of many employees. Employers should be talking with their employees about these new immigration policies and importantly stressing that employers will be defending their company’s I-9 processes internally, which will build trust with the employees. Employers should also be aware that these policy shifts are likely to affect California’s labor shortage. Notably, however, none of these policies appear to target employers or the workplace.

Stay tuned for The Saqui Law Group’s I-9s in a Nutshell and What to Do When ICE Shows Up seminars coming soon.  If you have any other questions about the current immigration enforcement climate, do not hesitate to contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.


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