On February 18, 2021, ICE issued new guidelines for which immigrants are a priority for removal from the United States. These guidelines mark an important shift from the Trump administration’s policy of considering anyone without immigration status a priority for deportation.
What are the new enforcement priorities?
The new memo directs ICE officials to target their resources to remove people from the United States who fall under the following three categories:
- National Security – the new memo makes clear that those targeted for “national security” reasons are those who have committed acts of terrorism or espionage.
- Border Security – the memo emphasizes that anyone who entered the country after November 1, 2020 is a priority for removal from the United States, whether or not they have a criminal record. The cut-off date appears to be chosen arbitrarily, possibly in order to deter people from attempting unlawful entry based on the change in the administration.
- Public Safety – people who are considered priority for removal under this category would be ones who are convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or are convicted of participating in “gang activity.”
Importantly, the new memo states that “general criminal activity” is not a national security concern. This means that ICE, when deciding whether to initial deportation against someone with a criminal record, will have to consider their personal or family circumstances, how serious and recent the crime is, and any rehabilitation factors.
What do the new enforcement priorities mean for you?
The new ICE memo reverses course from the last administration’s draconian policies, but a lot of room remains for improvement. In particular, family detention – the terrible practice of detaining children with their parents who cross the border – still remains in force. Nevertheless, the new guidelines signal that the Biden administration is acting more sensibly in recognizing the limits of enforcement resources, and most importantly, recognizing that having a criminal conviction is not the same thing as being a danger to the public.
If you’re present in the United States without any status and were worried about taking steps towards fixing the situation, these enforcement guidelines are an encouraging sign to step away from that fear. We would be happy to explore your options with you.
Do you need immigration assistance?
The Haq Law team understands the complex United States Immigration process and can guide you to make the most informed decision. Let us help you!
Contact us to set up an appointment today – 415.895.0661.