Biden’s plan to freeze deportations for 100 days
How federal entities handle immigration is a priority for the Joe Biden administration. The current president, who took office on January 20, 2021, has mentioned on several occasions that the US government has a duty to reform the local immigration system, which has been broken for a long time and does not meet today’s global needs.
One of the most important aspects of the immigration sector is the detention and deportation system, which processes cases of immigrants who try to cross the US borders without prior authorization or those who managed to cross them without being detained by border forces and currently reside within the country undocumented.
Restructuring the detention and deportation system has always been essential for the Biden administration, mainly because the previous administration, led by former President Donald Trump, implemented hundreds of restrictive policies, which increased the number of deportations and reduced viable alternatives for undocumented immigrants in the US.
In fact, a major proposal from President Biden since he launched his political campaign was to suspend deportations of certain undocumented immigrants during his first 100 days in office, so that his team could review current processes and propose action plans to improve the immigration system, including deportation protocols.
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Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations did not work
Just days after proposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations, the Biden administration faced its first challenge related to the immigration sector. A federal judge blocked the rule’s implementation, stating that halting deportation orders could have devastating repercussions for border states like Texas.
The judge’s Temporary Restraining Order initially suspended Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations for 14 days. However, three days after issuing his verdict, the judge extended the order until February 23, 2021.
New deportation guidelines for ICE agents
One of the entities in charge of deportation processes in the US is ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), which not only protects the borders along with CBP (Customs and Border Protection), but is also in charge of conducting operations within the country to detain undocumented immigrants, mainly those who have participated in crimes or have pending legal charges.
Following the judge’s order, federal entities were awaiting a response from the Biden administration to proceed with pending removal proceedings.
On Thursday, February 18, 2021, ICE issued a memorandum, which sets an interim operating guidance to handle deportations for the next 90 days, while the Secretary of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), Alejandro Mayorkas, issues new enforcement instructions.
ICE’s memorandum states that border agents will be able to deport undocumented immigrants without a pre-approval process only in certain specific scenarios, such as those related to:
- National Security: If ICE suspects an individual has engaged in activities related to terrorism, espionage, inter alia.
- Border Security: ICE may deport immigrants who have been detained trying to cross the US borders without legal documentation on or after November 1, 2020, or those who were not physically present in the country prior to November 1, 2020 and are detained by federal entities within the US.
- Public Safety: ICE may deport immigrants who have a criminal record or have participated in felonies and could pose a threat to the American population.
For scenarios that do not meet the criteria mentioned above, ICE personnel must request pre-approval to complete removal proceedings. The federal entity awaits a response from Mayorkas for future deportation guidelines.
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