US President Donald Trump signed a bill on Wednesday that will create a new national border security agency that will be tasked with enforcing the controversial Secure Communities law.
Under the legislation, the agency will be headed by the acting commissioner, who will also have authority to grant special immigration visas and temporary worker visas, as well as to waive or defer deportation orders against individuals who are in the country legally and who pose no threat to the US.
A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson told Reuters the new agency would be created “to serve as the focal point of a nationwide, integrated, and comprehensive strategy to address the increasing threats posed by criminal aliens.”
The DHS spokesman added that “as of this morning, the CBP is not able to confirm the number of employees who are working at the new border security office, but the CBPA is planning to hire more agents to help manage the surge of illegal aliens arriving in the United States and will provide the new DHS office with additional resources to do so.”
The White House has said the new office will have access to the “full resources of the Department of Homeland Security,” including a $1.6 billion fund to help pay for construction, security, and other operations.
The new office is expected to be established in 2018.US President Donald Trumps first border security policy was based on the Secure Communities program, which was first implemented in Arizona in 2015.
The legislation, signed by Trump in May, requires states to detain and deport criminal aliens who are present in the US, and requires border patrol agents to issue special immigration work visas to immigrants in the process of crossing the border.
But critics say it has been widely criticized by both civil rights groups and civil libertarians who say it unfairly targets undocumented immigrants who may have committed minor offenses.
The DHS spokesperson said the department is “currently in the final stages of evaluating the implementation of the law” and that it is reviewing the draft legislation to “determine its impact on our immigration enforcement mission and the Department’s overall mission.”
The spokesman added the new law “is intended to protect our nation from criminal aliens, including the most dangerous criminal aliens that pose a risk to public safety.”