Any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority, according to Homeland Security Department memos signed by Secretary John Kelly.
The change could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses — or simply having crossed the border illegally.
U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D-52) said the announcement is a move in the wrong direction, and positions Mexico as an enemy of the U.S.
"Look, I’m horrified about the attitude that we have in this administration toward Mexico, which is one of our best allies, and toward it’s people and toward the descendants of these people who are here as part of our economy," Peters said.
He said many San Diegans don't necessarily see the border as a threat, and called the recent change in policy as "very counter-productive."
"San Diegans know that that’s the wrong way to go," Peters said, referring to policy change.
Some San Diegans waiting in front of Congressman Darrell Issa's office for an event said the move was for the better.
"I think it's good to do that, so we can the criminals, the illegals, who are criminals," said Juliet Cunningham.
"It's just a matter of security and safety for this country," she added.
Another supporter said she thought the guidelines were a positive move on Trump's part because she wanted good people in the U.S.
"I went them all to go back," she said. "Because we're paying a lot of money the illegal immigrants and we want good people here, we don't want people that commit crimes."
In response to Tuesday's announcement, Consul General Marcela Celorio released the following statement:
“The consulate is going to work very closely and carefully to follow how the measures are going to be implemented. We will be very vigilant on the impact of the measures these will have. We will be protecting the human rights of the Mexican nationals in the country, we are going to protect their rights.
This is very important to stress, every case is different. We are going to analyze every case. Focus on how we can implement a legal defense. In the cases of people who are facing expedited removal, in those cases, they don’t have the right to go before a judge. But because they still have human rights, that is where we will step in and do whatever it takes to defend them.”
The new enforcement documents are the latest efforts by President Donald Trump to follow through on campaign promises to strictly enforce immigration laws.
The new guildelines will not affect the 750,000 young immigrant students protected by DACA. The so-called dreamers will remain protected from deportation.
The California Superintendent of Public Instruction today urged all elligible students for the California Dream Act to apply. The deadline is March 2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.