Wed | Aug 10, 2022

Biden suspends rules limiting immigrant arrest, deportation

Published:Tuesday | June 28, 2022 | 9:55 AM
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents gather before a raid to arrest immigrants considered a threat to public safety and national security during an early morning raid in Compton, California, Monday, June 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

BOSTON (AP) — The Biden administration, reacting to a federal court ruling in Texas, has suspended an order that had focused resources for the arrest and deportation of immigrants on those who are considered a threat to public safety and national security.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Saturday it will abide by the decision issued this month, even though it “strongly disagrees” and is appealing it.

Immigrant advocates and experts on Monday said the suspension of Biden's order will only sow fear among immigrant communities.

Many living in the country illegally will now be afraid to leave their homes out of concern they'll be detained, even if they're otherwise law-abiding, said Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University.

Prioritising whom to arrest and deport is a necessity, he said.

“We simply don't have enough ICE agents to pick up and put into proceedings everyone who violates our immigration law,” Yale-Loehr said.

The Texas case centres around a memorandum Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, issued last September, directing immigration agencies to focus their enforcement efforts on those who represented a threat to national security or public safety or who recently entered the US illegally.

The approach was a departure from President Donald Trump's administration, when immigration agencies were given wide latitude on whom to arrest, detain and deport, prompting many immigrants without legal status to upend their daily routines to evade detection, such as avoiding driving or even taking sanctuary in churches and other places generally off-limits to immigration authorities.

But on June 10, US District Judge Drew Tipton in southern Texas voided Mayorkas' memo, siding with Republican state officials in Texas and Louisiana who argued the Biden administration did not have the authority to issue such a directive.

In response, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will make enforcement decisions on “a case-by-case basis in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland,” the Department of Homeland Security said in its statement Saturday.

How the court ruling plays out in cities and towns across the country remains to be seen, advocates say.

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