ICE begins a 100-day moratorium on deportations of certain immigrants in the US.

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U.S. immigration authorities on Friday began implementing a 100-day moratorium on the deportation of certain immigrants already in the country as part of a major change in immigration policy under President Biden.

The freeze, a promise Mr Biden made during the election campaign, will temporarily protect most deported immigrants from being removed from the US by May, as long as they enter the country before November 1, 2020 are.

Immigrants suspected of terrorism or espionage, as well as immigrants seen as a threat to national security, do not benefit from the moratorium approved by a memo signed by incumbent Minister of Homeland Security David Pekoske. The Head of Immigration and Customs Control can also decide to make an exemption from freezing deportations, and immigrants can volunteer for deportation.

The Pekoske Policy also issued new interim guidance, due to come into effect February 1, instructing immigration officers to focus on the arrest and deportation of immigrants identified as a national security risk. Migrants recently arrested at US borders; and those convicted of specific crimes released from federal, state, or local prisons.

Overall, the deportation moratorium and the priorities for new arrests mark a seismic change from the Trump administrationThe immigration enforcement system that left most undocumented immigrants in the US vulnerable to being picked up and deported by ICE agents.

“We’re talking about 180 things the last administration forced ICE to do,” John Amaya, a former senior ICE official under the Obama administration, told CBS News, adding, “It gives the agency an opportunity to do one to return.” Sense of normalcy. “

Progressives and immigrant rights groups who urged Mr Biden to adopt the deportation moratorium as an election promise during the democratic presidential primaries applauded his government for putting it into effect.

“We have never seen anything like it, and it really pays homage to the work immigration lawyers have done over the past few years educating and pressuring those responsible,” said Naureen Shah, senior advocate and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union said CBS News.

Protest against immigration and deportation in Philadelphia
During a protest against immigration and deportation on July 10, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA, 50 immigrants along with a community activist occupy the lobby of former President Joe Biden.

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Some Republicans have strongly denounced the deportation break. On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over the moratorium, alleging in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas that the DHS violated an agreement made during the Trump administration and which was allegedly required by the department to advise the state of the changes in immigration policy before they are implemented.

During an appearance on Thursday on Fox News, Thomas Holman, who headed ICE for a year and a half during the Trump administration, criticized the moratorium and new enforcement guidelines, claiming they would protect immigrants with severe criminal convictions from deportation.

But Amaya said he had heard from former colleagues at ICE who expressed their relief at seeing executives “get back in the driver’s seat with sensitivity, reasonableness and a rational approach to government.” He noted that under the new rules, ICE retains a wide discretion in arresting anyone considered a threat to public safety, as well as anyone in the United States without legal permission.

Pekoske’s memo also instructed ICE to review all aspects of immigration enforcement – arrests, deportations, detentions, and relations with local law enforcement – while taking into account the coronavirus pandemic and the department’s limited resources. Pekoske asked for recommendations on new guidelines within 100 days.

“I think we will end up in a place that will be palatable not only to the agency’s officials, but certainly also to the community,” said Amaya. “It will reassure everyone that not only will the most dangerous elements in society be removed, but we will also give everyone who deserves an opportunity to be seen and heard in front of a judge.”

Amaya said some ICE officials might disagree with the new guidelines but would not bother them. “They are sworn to abide by the law and to abide by the guidelines unless there are unconstitutional guidelines,” he said. “You may disagree. But they will execute you.”

Shah suggested that the Biden government should use the next 100 days to remove agreements that would allow local law enforcement to detain immigrants who violated immigration laws and limit the use of so-called “detainees” – applications to local authorities, Detaining undocumented immigrants who would otherwise be released after being charged so that ICE officials have time to arrest them.

Shah said ICE should also investigate the cases of the more than 14,000 immigrants currently detained, including 200 parents and children of migrants held in family detention centers. The agency has the authority to release undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, green card holders and others in their custody as they are all imprisoned for civil immigration reasons and not carry out judicial convictions.

During the campaign, Mr Biden vowed to end the for-profit detention of immigrants and otherwise ensure that immigrants participate in court hearings, for example by connecting them with case managers and lawyers.

“You should look carefully to see if you need these more than 200 prisons open across the country that have cost taxpayers huge sums of money and have resulted in many horrific mistreatment and deaths,” said Shah, citing the 21 deaths of ICE prisoners. that occurred in fiscal 2020, the highest in 15 years.

Mr Biden’s deportation moratorium and the cap on ICE arrests are not only a dramatic change in President Trump’s policies, but also a significant departure from the practices of President Obama, whom he served as Vice President. During Mr. Obama’s tenure, ICE issued memos to limit arrests and exempt certain immigrants from deportation, but also carried out more than 3 million deportations – a record high.

Denver University professor César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, who studies immigration enforcement, said Mr Biden’s approach could be traced back to the development of the conversation on immigration.

“I think it reflects the different immigration policies of 2021, when President Biden last came to the White House as Vice President,” García Hernández told CBS News.

García Hernández also credited “efforts by community organizations and activists across the country to ensure that immigration is not forgotten, to keep candidate Biden by the fire and to remind him of the grave consequences of the Obama administration’s immigration policies.”

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