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Department of Homeland Security bans immigration-related arrests at ‘protected areas’

A recent memo from the Department of Homeland Security will ban ICE and CBP agents from arresting, conducting searches, or serving subpoenas to undocumented immigrants who are in protected areas.

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    ICE and CBP agents will be prohibited from making immigration-related arrests at protected areas

    Effective as of October 27th, 2021, both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will be prohibited from making any immigration-related arrests at protected areas. In addition, agents can not conduct searches or serve subpoenas in areas where undocumented individuals “receive or engage in the essential services or activities”.

    To help ICE and CBP agents comply with the new DHS policy, all agents will receive updated training, better management systems, and greater supervision.

    It should be noted that arrests can still be made at these protected areas if the situation involves the following:

    • If there involves a threat to national security
    • If there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to a person
    • If authorities are in “hot pursuit” of an individual who poses a risk to public safety
    • If the individual was personally observed crossing the U.S. border without legal authorization
    • If there is an imminent risk that evidence material to a criminal case would be destroyed

    For any other immigration-related arrests, agents or officers will need to get approval before taking any enforcement action in or near a protected area.


    What are the protected areas?

    Protected areas where undocumented individuals in the United States are safe from any kind of immigration-related enforcement are defined as those areas that provide essential services. These include the following places:

    • Schools
    • University campuses
    • Hospitals or other medical facilities
    • COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites
    • Places of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc)
    • Sites where children gather (examples include playgrounds, daycare centers, recreations centers, etc)
    • Homeless shelters
    • Shelters for victims of domestic violence
    • Substance abuse treatment facilities
    • Food pantries
    • Places where disaster or emergency response and relief is being provided
    • Funerals (or nearby a funeral)
    • Political demonstrations or rallies (or nearby)
    • Parades (or nearby)

    The Biden administration’s rollback of Trump-era policies

    This policy is the latest in the rollback of Trump-era policies aimed at re-prioritizing the United States’ harsh immigration policy. A week before this new policy was implemented, the Department of Homeland Security suspended work-site raids that targeted food processing plants and other businesses with a known history of employing undocumented workers.

    These efforts are believed to be made by the Biden administration as a way to protect those immigrants in the United States who are without valid status (aka, undocumented) from deportation while the Biden administration and Democrats work on getting Congress to pass more protective and concrete immigration legislation for immigrants.

    Since taking office in January 2021, President Biden has vowed to bring “greater humanity” to immigration enforcement. However, all efforts to provide a pathway to citizenship along with other immigration provisions to grant some sort of immigration legalization have been struck down in Congress as Republicans fight to keep a more restrictive U.S. immigration policy in place.

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