New policy gives immigration agents more power than ever before

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a move many in the immigrant community are calling racist, abusive and possibly even unlawful -- in a memo, the Trump administration has expanded the power of officers with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS department by allowing them to initiate deportations based on a new set of guidelines.

People who go to USCIS are trying to become legal permanent residents or citizens. Now officers are going from application reviewers to enforcers under the new directive.

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"This updated policy equips USCIS officers with clear guidance they need to and deserve to support the enforcement priorities established by the president," USCIS' director said in a statement.

"Instead of welcoming people, it's putting up the wall. I think the message is, 'You're not welcome,'" said immigration attorney Amie Miller.

Miller worries about due process violations and immigrants being sent to deportation hearings for subjective infractions.

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A notice to appear for a deportation hearing can be given in cases of fraud, criminal offenses, unlawfully living in the U.S. or if the person's received public benefits.

"It creates more fear for community members that might be able to apply to fix their status now," said Juan, who did not want to give his last name but lives in San Pablo. "There's that added layer of fear on whether they can apply for it or not."

If one of the USCIS officers decides to issue a notice to appear in court, the immigrant will get one pretty fast, maybe even by the end of their meeting.

The directive is already in place.

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