What Are the New Immigration Rules?


The Department of Homeland Security has unveiled new policies aimed at detaining and deporting more immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. (NPR and USA Today)

Use our study guide to learn more about the newest waves of immigrants to the U.S.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

Shadowed by the containment bars of a Border Patrol car, a 10-year-old boy is driven back to his hometown of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, after being picked up in Brownsville, Texas. Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic
New rules for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are aimed at deporting more immigrants like this 10-year-old boy being driven back to his hometown of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, after being picked up in Brownsville, Texas.
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas


  • How have the new ICE rules changed policies regarding undocumented immigrants accused of crimes?
    • The new rules encourage customs officers and border patrol agents to detain any undocumented immigrant convicted of any criminal offense. This includes people convicted of driving without a license, fraud, and those who have “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits”, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or Social Security.
      • This is an expansion of existing enforcement protocols, which only encouraged the detention of undocumented immigrants convicted of violent crime, such as rape or murder.


  • What is the ICE’s Alternatives to Detention, better known as the “catch and release” policy?
    • “Catch and release” describes the practice of processing undocumented immigrants and releasing them until their case is decided at a scheduled court hearing. Many immigrants wear ankle monitors while awaiting their hearing.


  • How have the new ICE rules changed the “catch and release” policy?


  • What are expedited removals?
    • Expedited removal describes the process in which a non-citizen is removed from the United States without going through the usual removal proceedings, such as the right to an attorney or a hearing before an immigration judge. Expedited removal carries a five-year bar to re-entering the U.S.


  • What are the new rules changed policies regarding expedited removals?
    • Undocumented immigrants can be removed from anywhere in the United States if they have been living here for fewer than two years.
      • This is an expansion of existing enforcement protocols, which limited expedited removals to those detained within 100 miles of the border and who had resided in the U.S. fewer than 14 days.
      • ICE agents and officials are encouraged to prioritize the removal of any undocumented immigrants whom they “deem a risk to public safety or national security.”


  • Read through this excellent study guide on the newest wave of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Although they travel through Mexico, they are not Mexican. How do the new rules impact Central American immigrants, many of whom seek refugee status?
    • The new rules make it more difficult for immigrants to claim asylum, encouraging the ICE officer to “elicit all relevant information” before determining if the immigrant has a “credible fear” if returned to their country of origin.
    • The new rules allow ICE agents to deport some undocumented immigrants to Mexico even if they’re not Mexican.


  • Undocumented immigrants often arrange to have their young children join them in the U.S. How do the new ICE rules impact the families of children who are apprehended and detained while crossing the border alone?
    • If an unaccompanied minor is apprehended, their entire family in the U.S. may be prosecuted for smuggling.


  • Do these changes impact “Dreamers,” those impacted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy? (Learn more about that policy here.)
    • No, Homeland Security officials specifically say the new policies will not impact DACA, which offers protection to people brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. More than 750,000 undocumented immigrants, many of them college students, have been granted protection under DACA.


  • Do the new ICE rules impact the planned expansion and construction of a border wall along the U.S. border with Mexico?
    • Yes. According to Customs and Border Patrol (CPB), “We have identified locations near El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and El Centro, California, where we will build a wall in areas where the fence or old brittle landing-mat fencing are no longer effective. The Border Patrol is also in the midst of an operational assessment [completed within 180 days], which will identify priority areas where CBP can build a wall or similar physical barrier on the border where it currently does not exist.”


  • How does the government plan to implement these new policies and procedures? This seems like a lot more work.
    • Hire a lot more workers. Homeland Security is planning to hire 10,000 new immigration and customs agents.
    • Build and expand existing detention facilities. There are about 11 million undocumented immigrants, all of them at risk of detention and deportation.
    • Create a new department. A new ICE office will help victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants. The Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE) will keep victims and their families informed about the status of criminal cases against the undocumented immigrants and any follow-up deportation proceedings.
    • Teleconference judges. Where space and staffing do not allow for an immigration judge to preside over a hearing, ICE is is “seeking to increase the use of technology, mainly through the use of video teleconferencing.”
    • Deputize police. The new policies will revive a program that recruits local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help with detention and deportation.



NPR: Homeland Security Outlines New Rules Tightening Enforcement Of Immigration Law

USA Today: Homeland Security unveils sweeping plan to deport undocumented immigrants

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Q&A: DHS Implementation of the Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement

Nat Geo: Wave of Central American Migrants Approaches Crisis Levels study guide

(extra credit!) U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies

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