The Trump administration has expanded the government’s deportation powers, issuing guidelines urging officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency that oversees legal immigration and naturalization — to begin the removal process for people who use fraudulent documents or who illegally took government benefits. USCIS officers have always had powers, but in the past had usually referred cases to other parts of Homeland Security for decisions on deportation. But new guidance memos reviewed by The Washington Times show USCIS is now pushing to advance its own role in policing illegal immigration. “For too long, USCIS officers uncovering instances of fraudulent or criminal activity have been limited in their ability to help ensure U.S. immigration laws are faithfully executed,” L. Francis Cissna, the agency’s director, said in announcing the changes publicly. “This updated policy equips USCIS officers with clear guidance they need and deserve to support the enforcement priorities established by the president, keep our communities safe, and protect the integrity of our immigration system from those seeking to exploit it.” The memos tell agency employees to be on the lookout for people who apply for naturalization or another legal immigration benefit but who have criminal records, used fraudulent documents, lied about their applications or had abused public benefit programs. In the past, those might have been enough to reject the application, but USCIS would either drop the issue or refer the case to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for possible deportation. Under the new guidelines, dated June 28, USCIS employees are now urged to begin the deportation process themselves. That involves issuing a Notice to Appear, or NTA, which signals the beginning of the deportation process. Someone who receives an NTA then must go before an immigration judge, has the chance to appeal, and only then is deported. “When fraud, misrepresentation, or evidence of abuse of public benefit programs is part of the record and the alien is removable, USCIS will issue an NTA upon denial of the petition or application, or other appropriate negative eligibility determination,” the guidance says. The new guidance reclaims USCIS’s role as a gatekeeper and expands the number of government employees on the lookout for deportable migrants. The immediate effect could be to discourage people with bogus claims from coming forward to apply, since they now run a greater risk of ending up in deportation proceedings. People applying under the Obama-era DACA program are exempted from the new guidance, meaning illegal immigrant “Dreamers” won’t generally have to worry about being put in deportation if their claim is rejected. The prohibition on sharing their information with ICE is also still in place..
As the number of illegal aliens here in America is in the tens of MILLIONS, this is nowhere near enough. But, hey.. It’s a small win. So, we’ll take it..