DHS' Kelly proposes hiring more immigration officers, fast-tracking deportations

The Department of Homeland Security’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration includes the hiring of thousands of additional federal agents and accelerating deportation hearings, according to memos signed this weekend by agency Secretary John Kelly.

The memos were signed Friday by Kelly and, if approved by President Trump, would give federal authorities more power to aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the country and along U.S. borders.

The guidelines also call for expanding the priority list for illegal immigrants marked for immediate removal and enlisting the help of local law enforcement agencies, reported first by CNN and The Washington Post, which has a copy of the memos.

If adopted, the changes would be in connection with executive orders Trump signed in late-January on illegal immmigration.

Kelly is calling for 10,000 additional ICE officers and agents and 5,000 new hires at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” wrote Kelly, citing 10,000 to 15,000 more apprehensions along that border between 2015 and 2016.

He also wrote that building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump has called for, “necessary.”

Former President Obama’s executive orders on illegal immigration focused on deporting those with criminal records and terrorist connections.

“Criminal aliens have demonstrated their disregard for the rule of law and pose a threat to persons residing in the United States,” Kelly writes in the memorandums. “As such criminal aliens are a priority for removal.”

The expanded relationship with local law enforcement would be carried out through what is known as 287(g) -- a section on the federal  Immigration and Nationality Act that allows DHS to deputize state and local law-enforcement officers so they can function as federal immigration agents.

The memos are purportedly draft documents now under review by the White House Counsel’s Office, which will likely recommend changes.