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Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center

CHICAGO (February 17, 2017) — Today the public has been given a glimpse of a draft memo from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security outlining the administration’s draconian plans, which, if accurate and put into practice, would constitute an assault on the rights of Americans, and specifically immigrants. The memo, obtained by the Associated Press, aims to operationalize the immigration-related executive orders issued by the president on January 25th.

The plan outlined in the memo would drastically change and intensify border and internal enforcement practices, including militarizing zones throughout the United States as well as at the southern border. Its implementation would have far-reaching and devastating impacts, and would inevitably breed rampant racial profiling and civil rights abuses while jeopardizing the safety of all Americans.

Among the more concerning aspects of the memo is the authorization of law enforcement—including National Guard troops who would be deployed after minimal training—to act as judge, jury, and executioner in implementing “expedited removal.” The administration proposes to allow immigration officers to arrest and deport individuals immediately if the person cannot prove at the time of arrest that s/he has been living in the United States for more than 90 days. Under this proposed rule, anyone who does not carry proof of how long they have lived in the United States would be at risk of being swept up by a National Guardsman or immigration officer without warning and without appeal.

The administration is leading America down a dangerous path. These policies will tear families apart, further criminalize immigrants, erode due process protections, and undermine our country’s core values. We must emphasize that the original executive orders (issued on January 25th) and this draft memo obtained by the Associated Press are based entirely on falsehoods regarding immigrants. In fact, immigrants enrich our nation and make it stronger and safer.

NIJC will be vigilant in our defense of the immigrant community and American values of justice and due process, and we will use every legal remedy available to us.

We call on Congressional leaders to support legislation that would rescind the January 25th executive orders, and urge bipartisan and vocal support for these efforts. This draft memo shows the need for Congress to amend the immigration laws to restore due process and real checks and balances. And we call on governors and state legislatures to reject this attempt outright and protect families in their states.

As Americans, we must stand together and fight injustice.