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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

New DHS rules to cut back on illegal immigrant arrests, deportations

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ordered authorities Thursday to prioritize illegal immigrants for deportation who “pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security” — claiming that the government does not have the resources to apprehend every person who has entered the US unlawfully.

“The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen … should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them,” reads the seven-page memo from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country’s well-being require it.”

Most shockingly, the memo suggests there can be “mitigating factors” that argue against deporting an illegal immigrant who has committed a crime, including “advanced or tender age”; “lengthy presence in the United States”; “military or other public service of the noncitizen or their immediate family”; and “the impact of removal on family in the United States”.

Authorities would also be prohibited from arresting and seeking to deport someone in retaliation for exercising First Amendment rights, such as joining a protest or taking part in union activities, Mayorkas wrote.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent takes the names of Central American immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border.Getty Images

“Whether a noncitizen poses a current threat to public safety is not to be determined according to bright lines or categories,” the memo reads. “It instead requires an assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances.”

The document states that “the majority of undocumented noncitizens who could be subject to removal have been contributing members of our communities for years. They include individuals who work on the frontlines in the battle against COVID, lead our congregations of faith, teach our children, do back-breaking farm work to help deliver food to our table, and contribute in many other meaningful ways.”

Haitian migrants walk toward the Rio Grande river to return to the migrant encampment in Del Rio, Texas.AP

The new guidelines direct authorities to focus their efforts on illegal immigrants who entered the US after Nov. 1, 2020, or who are engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage.

The guidance, which is due to take effect Nov. 29, replaces interim rules issued in February that were initially blocked by a federal judge in August as part of a lawsuit brought by Texas and Louisiana. The judge ruled that the administration did not have discretion to choose which migrants to detain, but a federal appeals court allowed the guidelines to take effect while the lawsuit proceeds.

Thursday’s memo was strongly criticized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who tweeted: “The Biden administration has welcomed the flood of illegal aliens crossing our border and is now promising those same illegal aliens that they may stay in the U.S. without repercussions.”

The White House has come under fire from liberals for its reliance on a Trump-era public health authority to rapidly expel migrants — including about 5,000 Haitians who recently crossed the US-Mexico border at Del Rio, Texas — while also facing Republican criticism that it hasn’t done enough to counter a sharp increase in illegal immigration.

A federal appeals court in Washington cleared the administration late Thursday to continue expelling families under the authority, known as Title 42. The appeals court put on hold a lower court order barring the familial expulsions hours before the ban was to take effect.

With Post wires

A dust storm moves across the area as Haitian migrants use a dam to cross into the United States.AP

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