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U.S. Sets Plan For Crackdown On Nearly All Illegal Immigrants

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (file photo)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued tough new orders to begin a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Two memos issued by DHS Secretary John Kelly on February 21 order border patrol and immigration officers to deport as quickly as possible any illegal immigrants they find.

However, they leave in place Obama-era protections for immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.

The priority for deportation will remain undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, but will also include anyone who has been charged or potentially faces criminal charges.

Undocumented immigrants arrested for traffic violations or shoplifting will be targeted along with those convicted of more serious crimes.

Soon after being inaugurated president on January 20, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered action to begin construction of a wall along the 3,145-kilometer U.S.-Mexico border, a tightening of border security, and tougher enforcement against illegal immigrants inside the country.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Kelly ordered immediate action to begin planning and building a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

He also ordered the hiring of another 5,000 officers for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and 10,000 for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

The new rules also make it easier for ICE and CBP officials to automatically expel undocumented immigrants.

Kelly said the mass detentions of the past, requiring judicial review, have overburdened the government.

The memos come ahead of meetings this week between Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and BBC