Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas expanded the list of ‘sensitive locations’ where immigration officers are banned from making arrests.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have long been banned from making arrests in hospital and school settings, but now they will be asked to refrain from doing so at places of worship, places where children gather such as playgrounds, rec centers and bus stops and social service buildings such as domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Officers are also to avoid arrests at public demonstrations such as protests or parades, and during religious or civil ceremonies such as weddings or funerals.
The guidance also asks agents to reconsider enforcement actions ‘near’ such protected locations.
‘We need to consider the fact that an enforcement action taken near – and not necessarily in – the protected area can have the same restraining impact on an individual’s access to the protected area itself,’ the new guidance says. If indeed that would be the case, then, to the fullest extent possible, we should not take the enforcement action near the protected area.’
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas expanded the list of ‘sensitive locations’ where immigration officers are banned from making arrests
ICE agents will not be allowed to make arrests in ‘sensitive’ areas, like places where children gather or public demonstrations
The guidance carves out exceptions when there is an imminent national security threat or the threat of death or violence and calls on individuals to exercise judgment. Another exception can be made when there is no ‘safe alternative location.’
‘We can accomplish our enforcement mission without denying or limiting individuals’ access to needed medical care, children access to their schools, the displaced access to food and shelter, people of faith access to their places of worship, and more,’ Mayorkas wrote in a memo.
‘If we take an action at an emergency shelter, it is possible that noncitizens, including children, will be hesitant to visit the shelter and receive needed food and water, urgent medical attention, or other humanitarian care,’ Mayorkas said.
The new guidance is in line with a general relaxing of interior immigration enforcement under the Biden administration.
Last month, Mayorkas issued new guidance saying that ICE should not arrest people solely because they are undocumented, and instructed officers to consider whether the migrant had a previous criminal history or if there was a weapon involved.
That guidance, set to take effect Nov. 29, also discourages arresting illegal immigrants who are farm workers, elderly, have been in the US for an extended period of time or whether their removal would lead to the loss of a caregiver.
In July, the Biden administration reversed another Trump-era rule and banned ICE agents from detaining most pregnant, nursing and post-partum women.
Immigration arrests inside the United States fell during the past year to their lowest number in more than a decade, it emerged on Tuesday, according to new ICE data.
Almost 72,000 arrests were made in fiscal year 2021, which ended in September, a drop of almost one third since 2020 when 104,000 arrests made, according to new ICE data.
Chad Wolf, who led the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump, said: ‘This is what abolishing ICE looks like.
‘Disaster in the middle of a crisis.’
The new data come hot on the heels of a string of other negative indicators and as a fresh caravan of about 3,000 migrants makes its way through Mexico.
The Washington Post reported that the number of arrests made by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations was down from an average of 148,000 a year from 2017 to 2019 – and far less than the 322,093 made in 2011, a peak year for activity.
It meant that the 6,000 enforcement officers made an average of 12 arrests each during the year ending Sept. 30, or one a month.
The newspaper said ICE arrests began to fall under President Biden after the imposition of new limits on immigration enforcement and a 100-day pause on most deportations.