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The Biden administration is halting the boundaries of ICE arrests following a court ruling

Written by Javed Iqbal

The Biden administration on Saturday stopped its immigration arrest limits to comply a court decision which went into effect over the weekend, leaving deportation agents across the United States without any official instructions as to which immigrants they should and should not detain.

In September 2021, Alexander Mayorkas, Minister of Homeland Security, will be appointed instructed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to arrest immigrants who are considered to pose a threat to public or national security, and migrants who recently crossed a U.S. border illegally.

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Immigration and customs enforcement agents interrogate and detain undocumented immigrants during traffic jams after an early morning release, Wednesday, January 8, 2020.

Eamon Queeney / For The Washington Post via Getty Images


The rules, which are part of a broader Biden administration effort to reshape ICE’s immigration enforcement functions, generally protected unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States before November 2020 from arrest and deportation if they had not committed serious crimes.

But Republican officials in Texas and Louisiana earlier this month convinced a federal judge to override Mayorkas’ rules on the premise that he lacked the authority to issue them. U.S. Judge Drew Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, also said Mayorkas’ note was wrongly passed.

Tipton agreed to pause his decision to give the administration time to appeal, and the Department of Justice asked the Fifth Court of Appeal to suspend his ruling. But the appellate court did not issue a ruling on the government’s request until Tipton lifted the pause in his ruling Saturday morning.

In a statement to CBS News on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it “strongly” disagreed with Tipton’s order, but that it complied with it.

“During the appeal process, ICE agents and officers will make case – by – case enforcement decisions in a professional and responsible manner, informed of their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the home country,” the department said.

While the suspension of the ICE’s arrest priority scheme is unlikely to put the country’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in immediate danger of being arrested, the absence of national standards could lead to inconsistent enforcement actions across the United States, including arrests of immigrants previously instructed by agents. not to detain, said legal experts.

Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, said ICE agents will still have law enforcement to decide whether to make arrests. But he said agents would no longer be barred by national rules from arresting immigrants whom the Biden administration sought to protect against deportation.

Without national rules, Chishti said, there will likely be significant “variations” in how different ICE field offices carry out arrests. ICE officials in Atlanta, for example, could try to maximize arrests, he added.

“Individuals in jurisdictions that have historically been more likely to enforce have more to fear now than those in jurisdictions who have a more balanced approach to enforcement,” said Chishti, who heads the Migration Policy Institute’s New York office.

Representatives of ICE and DHS did not provide further details on how agents will decide whether to make arrests in the absence of enforcement priorities.

The memo, which was suspended over the weekend, is part of a series of rules issued by the Biden administration to narrow down the groups of immigrants subject to ICE arrests in the interior of the country. Under President Biden, ICE has been instructed to generally avoid detaining families with children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, victims of serious crimes, and U.S. military veterans.

The Biden administration has also suspended large-scale ICE arrests in the workplace and expanded the list of so-called “protected areas” where deportation agents should generally not arrest immigrants to include disaster sites, gathering places for children and social services.

Sir. Biden’s nominees have argued that the policy changes allow ICE’s 6,000 deportation agents to use their limited resources to arrest immigrants who endanger public or national security. Republicans, however, have condemned the rules as too restrictive and argued that they encourage illegal immigration.

The court ruling blocking ICE’s enforcement priorities is the latest judicial victory for conservative states that have sought to thwart Mr Biden’s immigration and border policies.

Through several lawsuits, Texas and other Republican-led states have forced the administration to scrap a 100-day deportation moratorium, close the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to new applicants, and revive a Trump-era policy that requires migrants to await their asylum hearings in Mexico.

In May, a federal judge granted a request from more than 20 Republican-led states and ordered the Biden administration to continue using a public health law first invoked under Mr. Trump for expelling some migrants from the US-Mexico border. The administration had argued that the emergency policy, known as Title 42, was no longer necessary to control COVID-19.

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Javed Iqbal

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