ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Department of Homeland Security has rolled out sweeping new guidelines to implement President Trump’s immigration enforcement orders.
A pair of memos from the Department of Homeland Security reveal a new plan. DHS said it will start by more seriously enforcing laws already on the books and prioritizing the removal of any criminal illegal immigrants convicted of a criminal offense.
The Trump plan also includes hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, hiring 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, and building a wall on the southern border.
The latest Pew Research Center study estimated about 85,000 illegal immigrants live in New Mexico.
Immigration attorney Mary Ann Romero explained that criminal undocumented immigrants have always been the top priority.
“The concern and the fear that exists now and the panic that exists now in the community is that, in an effort to remove the priorities, other undocumented immigrants are also being detained,” she said.
“What I think is very important is that all immigrants and their families understand and know their rights,” she said. “Nothing in life is guaranteed and you’re not always going to win a case, but if you have an opportunity to present your case in front of a judge, then you should.”
She said she expects “expedited removals” could increase, where illegal immigrants caught in New Mexico sign away their rights to appear before an immigration judge in El Paso to argue their case.
Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, said, “This is a petition for mass deportations that will tear mothers from fathers, sons and daughters from parents, husbands from wives.”
U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a Democrat, said in a statement, “President Trump’s guidelines amount to a plan to begin mass deportations. These plans are unrealistic, inhumane, bad for the economy, and an extremely inefficient use of already thin resources.”
Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce noted, “For years, the Obama Administration ignored the laws that were put in place, only deteriorating our immigration system further. This did nothing to provide certainty or fairness and only delayed the real work on immigration reform that needed to be done. We now have the opportunity under the Trump Administration to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and enforce the laws we have.”
Richard Berry, Albuquerque mayor, also reiterated Tuesday that his administration has taken steps not to be a sanctuary city for criminal activity.
“As far as APD officers joining ICE as immigration law enforcers, we simply don’t have the resources or plans to do that,” Berry said in a statement.
“Keeping Albuquerque safe is our top priority. By using our resources to deal with repeat offenders and a county jail population that has plummeted by two-thirds, while allowing federal authorities to perform their work to enforce federal law, I believe we can strike a balance between local and federal efforts,” Berry’s statement said.