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The US changes priorities in immigration enforcement

The priorities in the application of the immigration laws of the United States will be less generalized during the administration of President Joe Biden than in the period of his predecessor, since the authorities will focus on those who reside in the country without legal authorization and pose a threat, according to regulations released Thursday.

The guidelines establish a new course of action for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), which received strong criticism under the Trump administration for arresting and deporting any immigrant with irregular status without import your criminal record or ties to the community.

In the Biden administration, ICE will primarily apprehend and deport those who are considered a threat to national security, have committed aggravated crimes, or have recently crossed the border illegally.

It is a new case in which it breaks with Trump’s immigration policies, but it is also very far from the notion of “abolishing ICE” that became a slogan among some progressive groups annoyed by what they considered an indiscriminate method of imposing immigration laws.

Trump, whose administration implemented hundreds of measures to restrict both legal and illegal immigration, ordered ICE to apprehend anyone who resides in the country without authorization. In June 2019, Trump tweeted that “next week, ICE will begin the process of deporting the millions of illegal immigrants who have found a way to enter the United States illegally.”

That never happened. Total deportations were higher during Barack Obama’s first presidential term than under the Trump administration, in part because many cities and states objected to cooperating with Trump’s ICE.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, noted that the new guidelines, which are considered temporary until a permanent policy is filed in about three months, represent a smarter way to use limited resources at an agency that has about 20,000 employees, including agents and support staff.

“By focusing our limited resources on cases that pose threats to national security, border security, and public safety, our agency will execute its surveillance mission more skillfully and effectively,” said Tae Johnson, Acting Director of ICE, announcing the new guidelines.

“Like all local, state and federal security agencies, we must prioritize our efforts to achieve maximum impact on security.”

ICE officials and agents have raised concerns in recent days about a hierarchical guideline that limits their capabilities to conduct operations and inevitably results in potentially dangerous people managing to evade them, said Jon Feere, a high-ranking ICE adviser during the Trump administration. .

Feere underscored, for example, that workplace raids, which occurred more frequently in the Trump administration, typically led to charges such as identity theft or fraud. These would not be considered serious crimes but they are crimes that would be worth pursuing in order to dismantle human trafficking networks and groups of traffickers.

“Not allowing ICE to fulfill its responsibilities as it does now is a de facto dismantling of the agency,” he said. And what are the reasons? Who gains from all this? The traffickers? “

The new regulations could protect a considerable number of people.

The Immigration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan entity, estimates that 87% of non-US citizens residing in the country without legal authorization would not be among the priorities of immigration enforcement should Biden choose to adopt the criteria of national security and public safety just as the Obama administration did.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security noted that the new guidelines do not specifically exempt anyone from being arrested or deported from the United States if they are in the country without legal authorization.

However, they establish a series of priorities for deportation, and agents and officials would need to obtain authorization to deal with cases that do not fall into the three main categories.

In addition, the weekly arrest reports would be presented to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who has reiterated that he wants to correct what he considers a failed US immigration system.

The category of national security includes anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism or espionage. The border security category covers those who are apprehended along the border or ports of entry or those who entered the United States after November 1.

The category of public safety applies to anyone convicted of a crime that involves their “active” participation in gang activity or has been convicted of an aggravated felony.