President Donald Trump’s directives for increased deportations won’t likely be fully implemented until January 2018.
Homeland Security secretary John Kelly said during a speech Tuesday that the significant drop in illegal immigration has happened despite the Department of Homeland Security not doing “the big things yet.” The Border Patrol apprehended just 1,125 illegal immigrant family units in March, after 16,000 family units were apprehended in December. (RELATED: Border Apprehensions Hit 17-Year Low)
The federal government has taken several steps to combat illegal immigration since Trump took office such as: stopping the policy of “catch and release,” ending restrictions placed on ICE officers to focus on illegal immigrants with criminal records, and sending additional immigration judges to border detention facilities.
However, a report from the DHS Inspector General Thursday revealed that ICE has estimated that on Jan 31, 2018, the Trump administration’s deportation plan will start to be put in action.
The IG report found that ICE officers are overworked due to staffing issues and that the agency’s deportation policies are “outdated and unclear.” The inspector general recommended that ICE update its deportation policies and procedures and implement new staffing policy for deportation officers. (RELATED: ICE is Overworked And Losing Track Of Immigrants Who Pose National Security Threats)
ICE responded to the report by saying they are working to update their policies to ensure they align with President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and Secretary Kelly’s February memos implementing these orders.
“The estimated completion date is January 31, 2018,” ICE said. The agency told the inspector general that there are “gaps” between current policies and procedures and Trump’s and Kelly’s directives.
An ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement, “ICE concurred with the five recommendations outlined in the report and is taking steps to implement those recommendations as quickly as possible. The target dates for complete implementation, due to the scope of the recommendations, are in early 2018.”
ICE did not clarify what the gaps referenced in the report pertain to.
Secretary Kelly signed memos in February that implemented President Trump’s executive orders, but there are some that have not yet been implemented. These include the hiring of an additional 10,000 ICE officers and the construction of additional detention facilities and a border wall. These policies, however, are clearly difficult to implement within the first few months of the Trump administration.
Other initiatives Kelly ordered have also yet to be implemented. A memo he signed could allow illegal immigrants who have been in the country for less than two years to be deported without a court hearing. Kelly wrote that DHS will publish a notice in the Federal Register making this policy official.
A DHS spokeswoman told TheDC in February that there is “not a specified time at this point” when the notice will be published, and, as of Thursday afternoon, it has yet to happen.
The DHS secretary also called for the expansion of the 287(g) program to the “greatest extent practicable.” This program was started under President Bush and allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law. Just 16 programs around the country signed 287(g) agreements when Kelly signed the memo, and only two additional agencies have joined on since.