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Border Patrol agents ordered to ask immigrants about their deferred action status

PHOENIX — The top man in U.S. Homeland Security is talking about a directive that is being given to Border Patrol agents.

The Associated Press obtained internal training manuals that order immigration agents to ask illegal immigrants whether they might qualify for President Obama’s deferred action program in order to avoid getting deported.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson commented on the order during a press conference in Phoenix on Wednesday.

“We want to identify people who are low or non-priority’s for removal who might qualify for deferred action,” said Johnson.

The individuals must meet certain qualifications.

“The basic criteria is that you live in the country for five years, you have a child in this country who is either a citizen or a lawful resident and you haven’t been convicted of any serious crimes,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that lowering the number of deportations would free Border Patrol agents to concentrate on other things.

“I want to see our immigration enforcement personnel spend more of their time on threats to public safety and border security,” he said. “That’s the direction that we’re headed. That’s actually the direction that we’ve been headed in the last couple of years.”

The Obama administration believes that as many as four million people will be eligible to be protected from deportation if they qualify for the deferred action program.

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