On February 17, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two memos that detailed major changes to the current interior and border enforcement policies. There is still a lot that is unclear at this time and we expect more changes, but wanted to highlight the following priorities and what you can do to be prepared.
The President’s Priorities for Removing Immigrants Present in the United States: In the memos, DHS listed the following categories of immigrants within the country, including some who currently have a lawful status, as priority for removal:
- Persons with any criminal conviction(s);
- Persons with pending criminal charges;
- Persons who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense”;
- Persons believed by immigration officers to pose a threat to public safety or national security;
- Persons who have a final order of removal;
- Persons who have engaged in fraud/ misrepresentation in applications to government, or who have “abused” public benefits (this could include those who have used a fake Social Security Number); and
- Those who are undocumented
We are not clear as to who would fall into some of these categories and expect to receive more information over the next couple of months. While this list of priorities does cast a wide net, please keep in mind that the current infrastructure may not allow the administration to significantly increase the rate of arrest/deportation. Additionally, most people still have a right to have their case heard in front of an Immigration Judge.
We are doing our best to keep people informed of policy changes and have been conducting Know Your Rights trainings in various churches and community centers in Brooklyn and Queens.
If you have any questions or concern, please call Catholic Migration Services at (718) 236-3000 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. To speak to our “Immigration Attorney on Call” dial extension 203 between 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. All care encouraged to visit our website for future updates, training sessions and workshops at www.catholicmigration.org.