Department of Homeland Security releases strict new immigration guidelines

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WASHINGTON  -- The Department of Homeland Security Tuesday officially laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported.

The department released guidance memos signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued to heads of key agencies, which describe how the government plans to implement two executive orders President Donald Trump signed last month on border security and interior enforcement.

The memos, which were obtained and reported on by CNN over the weekend, serve to expand upon the orders, which are unrelated to the controversial travel ban currently tied up in the courts and being re-written by the White House.

The guidance explains how the administration plans to put in place the goals dictated in Trump's executive orders, including vastly increasing the resources to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, building a wall along the southern border and taking a hard-line position on undocumented immigrants.

Through the memos, Kelly expands the government's immigration enforcement by instructing agencies to implement unused parts of existing law and by clarifying standards for certain protections, which add up to having sweeping implications for the processing of undocumented immigrants in the US.

For one, the implementation vastly grows the number of individuals who can be deported using "expedited removal" procedures, which affords immigrants almost no court proceedings. Under the new policy, if someone can't prove he or she has been living in the US continuously for two years, he or she could now be eligible for expedited removal. Previously, this was limited in practice to people apprehended within 100 miles of the border and who had arrived within the past two weeks.

The memos also make a series of changes as part of ending so-called "catch and release," where undocumented immigrants awaiting court proceedings are granted parole and leave to enter the country pending court dates that can be years in the future.

There are some questions in larger cities like Chicago with large immigrant populations. Because of that, Chicago Public Schools sent a memo of its own to principals making it clear "CPS does not provide assistance to U.S. immigration and customs enforcement" when it comes to civil immigration law. ICE agents are not "permitted access to cps facilities or personnel" except in rare cases.

This was the memo sent to principals:

Dear Principals,
In the days since the Presidential election, many members of our school community have expressed concern and anxiety about immigration matters. Many of you have worked to ease the concerns felt by students and families, and we appreciate your commitment to ensuring that every student who walks through your doors is embraced and supported.

We have also received questions from many of you on how to handle interactions with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, so we have attached initial internal guidance to best protect students’ safety and privacy. To be very clear, CPS does not provide assistance to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law. Therefore, ICE should not be permitted access to CPS facilities or personnel except in the rare instance in which we are provided with a criminal warrant. If presented with any paperwork from ICE, please call the Law Department at 773-553-1700 before taking any action.

In the coming days, we will also provide a detailed FAQ document to address additional questions you may have, and please continue to reach out to Law, Communications and your Network Chief in the meantime.

In addition, to better support our families and provide additional clarity on some of the questions you may be receiving from families, we have attached a set of resources that can be provided at your discretion to members of your school community. Attached you will find:
A letter to parents highlighting our commitment to supporting all students and noting the many supports available to immigrants in Chicago.
Multi-language guidance from the City of Chicago’s Office of New Americans on legal assistance, immigrant rights, mental health care, and public safety.
Palmcards from the National Immigrant Justice Center on immigrant rights.

While many of our families have serious concerns and anxiety about recent federal actions and statements, we want to make sure that parents know school is a safe place for all students regardless of their race, ethnicity or country of origin. Attendance at a number of CPS schools dipped below typical rates during the “Day Without Immigrants,” but as we noted earlier in the week, we firmly believe that the safest and most beneficial place for students is a classroom alongside their fellow students.

We hope that the attached resources will be useful in addressing some of the new issues you and your school community face, and we are eager to hear your feedback on opportunities to better support our students and families.


Dr. Janice K. Jackson
Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools