President Donald Trump's administration plans to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, but will leave protections in place for immigrants known as "dreamers" who entered the United States illegally as children, according to official guidelines released on Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security guidance to immigration agents is part of a broader border security and immigration enforcement plan in executive orders that Republican Trump signed on Jan. 25.
Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, issued an executive order in 2012 that protected 750,000 immigrants who had been brought into the United States illegally by their parents. Trump has said the issue is "very difficult" for him.
Trump campaigned on a pledge to get tougher on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, playing on fears of violent crime while promising to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to stop potential terrorists from entering the country.
Trump's planned measures against illegal immigrants have drawn protests, such as an event last week that activists called "A Day Without Immigrants" to highlight the importance of foreign-born people, who account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 40 million naturalized American citizens.
A banner declaring "Refugees Welcome" was posted on the base of the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of American acceptance of immigrants, before park rangers removed it on Tuesday, WABC television reported.
DHS officials, on a conference call with reporters, said that although any immigrant in the country illegally could be deported, the agency will prioritize those deemed a threat.
These include recent entrants, those convicted of a crime and people charged but not convicted of a crime. Some details of the guidelines were detailed in a draft memo seen on Saturday.