Biden suspends rules limiting immigrant arrest, deportation

by mcdix

How the court’s ruling will play out in cities and towns across the country remains to be seen, lawyers say:

In response to a Texas federal court ruling, the Biden administration has suspended an order that concentrated resources for the arrest and deportation of immigrants on those deemed a threat to public safety and national security. On Monday, immigrant advocates and experts said that suspending Biden’s order would only sow fear among immigrant communities. On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would abide by this month’s decision, even if it “strongly disagrees” and will appeal.

Many living illegally in the country will now fear leaving their homes for fear that they will be detained even if they continue to abide by the law, said Steve Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell University. Prioritizing who to arrest and deport is a necessity, he said. “We just don’t have enough ICE agents to arrest and prosecute anyone who violates our immigration law,” Yale-Loehr said. The Texas case revolves around a memorandum from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, issued last September, directing immigration authorities to focus their enforcement efforts on those who pose a threat to national security or public safety or have recently entered the United States illegally.

The approach was a departure from President Donald Trump’s administration when immigration agencies were given wide discretion over who to arrest, detain and deport, forcing many immigrants without legal status to change their daily routines to evade detection, such as avoiding driving or even taking refuge in churches and other places generally off limits to immigration authorities. But on June 10, Southern Texas District Judge Drew Tipton quashed Mr. Mayorkas’ memo and sided with Republican state officials in Texas and Louisiana who argued that the Biden administration had no authority to make such a statement.

To issue a directive. Homeland Security in a statement Saturday. In response, immigration and customs enforcement officers will make enforcement decisions “on a case-by-case basis professionally and responsibly, based on their experience as law enforcement officers and in a manner that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland,” the Department of State said. How the court’s ruling will play out in cities and towns across the country remains to be seen, lawyers say. Sarang Sekhavat, political director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the largest such group in New England, said the outcome likely rests on the approach taken by local ICE field offices.

He said that some ICE offices may choose to go after a wider range of immigrants, while others will continue to focus on looking for those who pose the greatest threat. “This takes away any form of centralized guidance,” said Mr. Sekhavat. “What this does is really in the hands of the local field office and how they plan enforcement.” Nationwide, ICE officials arrested more than 74,000 immigrants and removed more than 59,000 in the fiscal year ending September, according to the agency’s most recent annual report. That’s less than the nearly 104,000 arrests and 186,000 deportations in the previous fiscal year, according to ICE data.

ICE spokespeople in Washington and the Boston field office, which covers the six-state New England region, declined to comment Monday, as did officials at the ICE field office in Los Angeles. But in a June interview with AP conducted before the Texas court ruling, Thomas Giles, chief of ICE’s LA office, said nine out of 10 immigration arrests at the scene involve people convicted of crimes. He told the Biden government’s priorities had not brought a huge change for the region, as the agents were already targeting people with criminal convictions or previous deportations. He said it required them to weigh aggravating and mitigating factors and make more detailed assessments of cases, but the focus remained constant. “We’re here to improve public safety,” Mr. Giles said.

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