The guidelines will greatly expand the number of people who are considered a priority for deportation - including those who are suspected of a crime but not yet convicted
US President Donald Trump's administration has released tough new guidelines on the deportation of illegal immigrants.
The new plan will consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation but will leave protections in place for those known as "dreamers" - immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance to immigration agents is part of a broader plan for border security and immigration enforcement in executive orders that Trump signed on Jan 25th.
The guidelines will greatly expand the number of people who are considered a priority for deportation - including those who are suspected of a crime but not yet convicted.
The guidelines will also apply to immigrants arrested for traffic violations and shop lifting offences.
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the main focus will be on people involved in criminality:
"The message from this White House and from the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs," he said. "That is what the priority is."
According to reports from the Reuters news agency, officials speaking in a conference call with reporters said that any immigrant in the country illegally could be deported - although the agency will prioritize those deemed as posing a threat.
The memos replace far narrower guidance issued under the Obama administration that focused resources strictly on immigrants who had been convicted of serious crimes, threats to national security and recent border crossers.
The guidance reportedly calls for the hiring of 10,000 extra US Immigration and Customs agents and 5,000 more US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
Many of the instructions will not be implemented immediately because they depend on Congress, a public comment period or negotiations with other nations, the officials said.
If implemented, the new rules would subject immigrants who cannot show they have been in the country for more than two years to "expedited removal" - deportation without the benefit of a hearing.
The memos also instruct ICE agents to detain migrants who are awaiting a decision on whether they will be deported or granted asylum.
According to the memo, the DHS plans to send non-Mexican migrants crossing the southern US border back into Mexico as they await a decision on their case - although an official with the Mexican immigration department told Reuters this will be impossible to implement due to existing treaties between the two countries.
While the memos do not change US immigration laws, they take a far harder line toward enforcement.