New DHS Policies, Predicted Weeks Ago

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that explain how the department will detain and prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants. For any readers who follow the “rogue” Citizenship and Immigration Service Twitter account @ALT_USCIS, the publication of the memos—and details inside them—comes eleven days after that account supplied those details. (CNN and other news outlets reported the existence of the memos two days ago.)

There are many online accounts of government employees (including at least two accounts whose writers claim to be inside the White House itself) who have “gone rogue” and are hard at work sharing with the world all the changes that have been introduced since the new presidential administration took the reins of power. @ALT_USCIS is a must-read account as of right now. If journalism is the first draft of history, this Twitter account is supplying the previews.

DHS Secretary Kelly’s memo states that it was written to implement the current President’s January 25 Executive Order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” (Link opens a PDF.)

Although a department spokesman insisted to the Washington Post that the new policies do not represent a first move in a mass deportation, the policy changes do expand the definition of criminal aliens (as does the current President’s Executive Order of January 25), and the memos expand the role of local law enforcement in the implementation of federal immigration policy.

Perhaps the biggest change in policy is an expansion of the rule that limited the ability to remove any aliens who can not prove that they have been in the country for more than two years from agents and officers headquartered near the border to agents in the nation’s interior. (By now, every immigrant in the nation must know that he or she must have their papers up-to-date and must carry them on their person at all times.) An immigrant stopped by border patrol must be able to prove, on the spot, that he or she has been in the U.S. for two years continuously.

“Near the border” is not as limited as the phrase sounds: in 1953, the U.S. Department of Justice redefined the definition of our nation’s border from that fence one sees in photos of articles about the border (see above) to a “zone” that extends one hundred miles from the border inward. Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population resides within one hundred miles of the nation’s border. I reside sixty miles north of New York City, thus, I reside in the “100-mile border zone,” which is something I did not know until today. (The More You KnowTM …)

This rule had been restricted to officers near the borders so they could quickly detain and remove undocumented immigrants as they entered the country. And yes, “near the border” was already a term with some fluidity built into it, so now the “border” extends to everywhere.

A series of Tweets sent out by the @ALT_USCIS Twitter account on February 10 gave details of proposals for new policies under discussion at DHS for implementation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers.

One Tweet reads: “news: CBP individual officers now have discretion to expel anyone they catch within 100 miles of border without going thru court system.” Another: “News: proposal circulating to make undocumented immigrants wear ankle bracelets while release pending court proceedings.” A third Tweet editorializes: “CBP officer can expel any within 2 weeks of xing & no prosecution fear back home.. officer can decide asylum cases now what could go wrong” (Punctuation left as-is.)

And another Tweet reads: “Plan is apparently for DHS to expand and employ 100 m rule anywhere to anyone who hasn’t been continuously physically present for 2 years”:

February 10 was eleven days ago.

The @ALT_USCIS account has also provided almost real-time updates of detentions as I.C.E. agents have started to enforce the administration’s new policies.

When The Hill published an article this morning about the two DHS memos, a Twitter user named Matt Schur posted a link to the article and wrote: “Everyone who’s wondering if this is legit: it was just confirmed in The Hill.” By “this,” he meant the February 10 Tweets. The writer or writers in charge of the @ALT_USCIS account took the opportunity to remind followers that information published by the account is verified “10 times b4 posting”:

Yesterday, when I wrote and published an article about proposed changes to the implementation of (actually, to the understanding of) Title IX leaked from the Department of Justice, the leak was published by the @ALT_USCIS account, not one associated with the Department of Justice. I have been following the @ALT_USCIS account and trust it. That is why I published the article even though other journalists have not yet published anything about the possible proposed Title IX changes. (Some journalists asked the @ALT_USCIS account for sources behind the Title IX leak. They were openly rebuffed.)

No one inside (or outside) the Department of Justice has rejected, debunked, or denied either my article or the @ALT_USCIS Twitter account’s publication of the leak about changes to Title IX. If and when it is debunked, I will publish that, too.

Because I trust the @ALT_USCIS Twitter account, I take statements like this one from about an hour ago seriously:

And this:

Only time will prove these statements true or not; if true, much sadness will follow.

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