A Department of Homeland Security internal memo has revealed that immigrants in the country illegally who are detained by federal authorities will only be released in "limited" cases when they are facing court proceedings.
The draft memo, obtained by CNN, states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers would have the discretionary power to release detainees on parole on a "case by case" basis.
The document notes that increased numbers of detainees would not present a problem, because numbers crossing the border from Mexico have declined since President Donald Trump took office. DHS has increased its number of available beds by 1,000 and has another 1,000 on stand-by.
Beyond this, the memo states that an additional 21,000 DHS beds could be found if more funding is provided and a further 12,500 from Customs and Border Protection.
The DHS draft also outlined plans for speeding up the hiring of immigration officers and for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico. The first sections of the wall are to be constructed in the Rio Grande Valley and in San Diego.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to CBP agents at the border crossing at the Port of Nogales in Arizona on April 11 to underline the Trump administration's commitment to more deportations and prosecutions of immigrants in the country illegally.
Under U.S. law, anyone who crosses the border illegally two or more times, transports someone else illegally, commits travel document fraud or resists arrest by an immigration officer can be criminally prosecuted.
Sessions stated that each U.S. attorney would have to identify a point person by April 18 responsible for border security prosecutions.
"Why are we doing this?" Sessions said during his remarks, according to Reuters. "Because it is what the duly enacted laws of the United States require."
Sessions added that the Department of Justice would appoint 50 additional immigration judges in 2017 and 75 in 2018. These judges are responsible for overseeing civil cases that can result in the deportation of the immigrant who has been charged.
"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era," Sessions added, according to Time. "The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws and the catch and release practices of old are over."
Sessions told his audience that Arizona was "ground zero" in the "fight" to secure the border.
But the Trump administration's plans, which include the hiring of 10,000 new ICE officers and 5,000 CBP agents, have been criticized by some.
"His is an administration that very much is interested in setting up that mass deportation infrastructure and creating the levers of a police state," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, according to TeleSUR.
Sources: CNN, Reuters, Time, TeleSUR / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Wikimedia Commons