The Biden administration will put the brakes on most deportations effective Friday.
On Wednesday, acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske issued a memorandum calling for a department-wide policy review. As part of that, deportations will slow to a trickle.
“For 100 days, starting January 22, 2021, DHS will pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a news release.
“The United States faces significant operational challenges at the southwest border as it is confronting the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the memo said.
“In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security.”
The memo said DHS will prioritize its efforts on the areas of national security, border security and public safety.
It defines national security threats as individuals “who have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, or whose apprehension, arrest and/or custody is otherwise necessary to protect the national security of the United States.”
In terms of border security, the priority will go toward apprehending those “apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States on or after November 1, 2020, or who were not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020.”
That policy would mean that migrants who have viewed Biden’s presidency as a chance to storm the southern border would be included in those targeted for deportation, while those who were in the U.S. prior to Biden’s election would be allowed to remain.
That point was driven home in the language creating the 100-day pause on deportations.
“DHS’s limited resources must be prioritized to: (1) provide sufficient staff and resources to enhance border security and conduct immigration and asylum processing at the southwest border fairly and efficiently; and (2) comply with COVID-19 protocols to protect the health and safety of DHS personnel and those members of the public with whom DHS personnel interact,” the memo said. “In addition, we must ensure that our removal resources are directed to the Department’s highest enforcement priorities.”
Exceptions to that rule are those who are suspected of terrorism or spying, who have agreed to removal or who were “not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020.”
The memo was among several Biden administration actions related to immigration.
DHS issued a statement announcing the suspension of new enrollments in the Migrant Protections Protocols program, which required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases were being decided in the U.S.
“All current MPP participants should remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials,” it said.
The statement also noted that the immigration bill Biden has developed has limits.
“Individuals outside of the United States will not be eligible for legal status under the bill President Biden sent to Congress today. The legalization provisions in that bill apply only to people already living in the United States,” the department said.
The statement referred to Biden’s proposal that would allow all illegal immigrants in the country to have a path to citizenship. The bill must pass Congress to take effect.
In another executive order, Biden stopped the flow of funding to the border wall that was a signature initiative of former President Donald Trump, writing, “It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.”
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