White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today that federal officials may begin proactively deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records. Earlier, President Trump said in a speech in which he asked local police to help with deportations by letting the Department of Homeland Security know about “who the illegal immigrant gang members are.”
At the press conference, Spicer was asked by a reporter whether Trump will have agents of DHS and Customs and Border Enforcement undertake deportations if local law enforcement officials fail to cooperate. While Spicer did not address the prospect of federal agents increasing deporting criminal aliens, he did say that Trump is placing a priority on building a wall along the US border with Mexico while also implementing his executive orders on immigration.
Spicer said, “Look, when you talk about immigration and what he’s doing — whether it’s the wall or enforcing existing regulations or visa reform — I don’t think anybody questions the president’s commitment to border security and immigration reform. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite.” He added that with regard to the steps Trump will take, Spicer said he has already addressed the matter many times. “You’ve seen [Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly] talk about construction of the wall, his implementation of the executive order to keep people out.”
“He’s talked about walking through the process and addressing DACA ... in time,” said Spicer in reference to Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation foreign nationals who were brought into the country as children. Spicer said that Trump is “walking through this already both in terms of executive action, and then will continue to work through Congress.” When he was asked whether Trump will be personally involved in the design for the proposed border wall, Spicer replied, “The president’s a builder.” Moreover, Spicer said that Trump will consult with DHS Secretary Kelly to make certain that the wall "meets his specs."
Officers of the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol have authority to operate within 100 miles of any of the borders of the United States, including land borders as well as populous coastline areas. This encompasses an area, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, that includes “roughly two–thirds” of the nation’s population.
On January 27, Trump issued executive orders that included a request for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and measures designed to compel local authorities to help federal law enforcement with the deportation of aliens. Trump also empowered local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, and also called for defunding of so-called sanctuary cities, such as San Francisco, which maintain that they can refuse to hand over certain aliens wanted by federal authorities when requested.
A journalist from Cincinnati, Ohio, asked Spicer whether that city would suffer “economic or other sanctions” over its decision this week to become a sanctuary city. In response, Trump said, “The president’s going to do everything he can within the scope of the executive order to make sure that cities who don’t comply with it — counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cities — don’t get federal government funding, in compliance with the executive order.” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is a Democrat.
Spicer said that Mayor Carlos Giménez of Miami, a Republican, has asked local officials to assist federal officials with immigration detention requests. “I think more … areas like Miami-Dade down in Florida understand the importance of this order,” he said. “We hope cities like Cincinnati and other communities around the country follow their lead and comply with that.”