The administration of US President Donald Trump has issued tough new guidelines to begin a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The official guidelines released on Tuesday, following two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (pictured below), showed an expansion of immigration raids and the definition of criminal aliens.
In a press call, however, officials from the Department of Homeland Security insisted that the new measures were not aimed at bringing about a mass deportation.
“We do not have the personnel, time or resources to go into communities and round up people and do all kinds of mass throwing folks on buses. That’s entirely a figment of folks’ imagination,” an official told the Washington Post. “This is not intended to produce mass roundups, mass deportations.”
Under the rules, almost all illegal immigrants are subject to deportation except “dreamers,” who entered the country illegally as children and are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that started under former President Barack Obama.
The memos enable immigration agents to remove any other aliens that fail to prove they have been in the US for over two years.
According to Tom Jawetz, the vice president of immigration at the liberal Center for American Progress, "The memo contemplates a massive expansion of people being removed from the country without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has defended the crackdown, asserting that they offer “explicit guidance” on how to enforce Trump’s executive orders.