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DHS sets new guidelines for immigration arrests and deportation

New immigration guidelines will no longer solely target the undocumented for arrest and deportation. The new guidelines will now focus instead on those who are guilty of more serious crimes and those who have recently crossed the border illegally.

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    What are the guidelines and when will they start?

    The U.S. government has issued a new set of guidelines regarding immigration arrests and deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and agents have now been instructed to make case-by-case decisions on arrests and deportations. Instead of detaining and deporting people on the sole basis of being undocumented, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has instructed ICE officers to instead focus on the arrest and deportation of those who pose a threat to the general public, public safety, and those who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after November 1st, 2020.

    The rationale behind this new immigration policy was published in a Sept. 30th statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where they state the following:

    “There is also recognition that the majority of the more than 11 million undocumented or otherwise removable noncitizens in the United States have been contributing members of our communities across the country for years. The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen will not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them. The Department’s personnel are to use their discretion and focus the Department’s enforcement resources in a more targeted way.”

    The new guidelines should take effect on November 29th, 2021.

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    Who is affected by these new immigration guidelines

    Under the Trump Administration, ICE agents and officers had the power to arrest and deport anyone illegally residing in the United States. Now, the DHS has asked immigration authorities to spare those immigrants who have been in the United States for a lengthy period of time along with the elderly, minors, and those whose family members will be adversely affected by deportation. In addition, special consideration will be given to individuals who have served in the military and those who have been victims of crime.

    It should be noted that the new set of guidelines do not include categories for exemption but rather instructs the immigration authorities to look at the case as a whole in order to prioritize resources. Furthermore, the new guidelines will prohibit the arrest and deportation of immigrants whose undocumented status was revealed to immigration authorities by “unscrupulous employers” (on the condition that the individual has not committed a major crime).

    What this means for the U.S.’s immigration system

    These new guidelines come as a welcomed relief to those undocumented immigrants living in the United States under the constant fear of arrest and deportation. It is estimated that there are an estimated 11 million undocumented individuals living in the United States. Since President Joe Biden took over in January 2021, his administration has been slowly trying to overhaul the harsh immigration policies leftover from the Trump Administration.

    However, efforts to provide a path to citizenship have faced many setbacks since President Biden took office. Recently a proposal in the budget reconciliation bill to establish citizenship for some immigrants was rejected by the Senate parliamentarian. In addition, the Biden administration has been criticized for the use of Title 42 to enact mass deportations at the U.S.-Mexico border for immigrants from South America and Haiti.

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