Biden Bars Immigration Enforcement in ‘Protected Areas’

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Biden Bars Immigration Enforcement in ‘Protected Areas’

LOS ANGELES – The Biden administration on Wednesday moved the nation’s schools and hospitals, as well as a wide range of other places, out of immigration enforcement’s limits, the latest sign that it is deporting millions of undocumented residents during its efforts to propose Committed to save The path of their legalization is stuck in Congress.

The new guidelines, effective immediately, list “protected areas” where immigration agents are to refrain from making arrests, searches, subpoenaing or taking other enforcement action.

Sites include school and university campuses; Hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, other than COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites; Places of worship; and places where children congregate, such as playgrounds, day care centers and foster care facilities.

The new list is much longer and more specific than the list put out in 2011 during the Obama administration, which prohibited enforcement actions in schools and churches. President Donald J. Trump largely ignored that policy, often leading to indiscriminate arrests.

In an interview on Wednesday ahead of the official announcement, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. “Individuals should not be restricted or limited in their access to essential services,” Meyerkas said.

“Children should not be afraid to go to school. Their parents should not be afraid to leave or pick them up.”

Other protected sites include shelters for victims of domestic violence and the homeless, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, food pantries, and sites providing assistance to those fleeing natural disasters. Immigration enforcement action should also be avoided in or near funerals, parades and demonstrations.

The guidelines represent the third policy issued by the Biden administration in recent weeks with the goal of bringing “more humanity” to immigration enforcement, Mr Mayerkas said.

They mark a profound shift in internal enforcement, and are intended to improve the day-to-day lives of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States have lived here for a decade or more, often with deep ties to US-born children and their communities. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately two-thirds of undocumented adults participate in the workforce.

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A memorandum detailing the policy, which applies to field agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, states that agents must “at all times” avoid enforcement action in the types of locations on the list. needed. “

Any exceptions must be approved by agency headquarters, the memorandum said.

The guidelines come as Democrats continue to struggle to add a vast social safety net and immigration provisions to the climate bill. Possibilities include offering protected status to some undocumented people without citizenship and allowing immigrants who have lived in the country for more than a decade to apply for permanent legal residency.

Since taking office, President Biden has moved away from his predecessor’s strict approach to illegal immigration; The new guidelines are the most recent in a series aimed at softening internal enforcement, away from the country’s border areas.

This week, two House Republicans sent a letter to Meyerkas asking for answers about the change in enforcement priorities.

Arizona Representative Andy Biggs considered the new approach an “insult to the rule of law.”

“Instead of preventing ICE from enforcing the law, the Biden administration should empower them to keep our country safe,” he said in a statement.

Mr Biden has implemented some of the border policies introduced by Mr Trump to prevent the influx of unauthorized migrants at the border. Still, border officials faced a record 1.7 million migrants in the fiscal year ending September 30.

During the Trump administration, many undocumented immigrants avoided spending time outside with their children and at least avoided going out, usually to buy groceries and go to work, knowing they were caught. even if they have not committed any crime.

Mr Trump rejected the prosecutors’ discretion that former President Barack Obama used in enforcing immigration, instead making everyone in the country illegally vulnerable to deportation.

Mr Meyerkas, who chairs the new enforcement strategy, last month issued the first set of new internal priorities, instructing agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement to aim to remove only those migrants from the country who have recently People who crossed the border or were a threat to public safety.

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Last week, Mr Meyerkas announced the suspension of raids at the workplace that could result in the arrest and eventual deportation of thousands of undocumented workers. Large-scale roundups, often at food processing plants, were a major part of immigration enforcement during the Trump administration.

“We must take a look at the illegal population in the country and recognize their significant contribution and presence for many years,” Mr. Meyerkas said, adding that the administration needs to adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants because Congress has so far failed to provide grants. their legal status.

But while the latest moves are likely to win praise from immigration advocates, it is unclear whether rank-and-file ICE officials, many of whom support the action imposed by the former administration, will follow.

“ICE and CBP have openly and openly disregarded guidance in the past,” said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, which led the fight against local police to cooperate with immigration officials. Is.”

“In addition to profiling and detailing sensitive locations, the secretary must take steps to rein in rogue agents charged with enforcing the new priorities,” he said.

Mr Meyerkas said that implementation would be achieved through the training, management and supervision of agents.

The Biden administration has drawn sharp criticism from immigrant advocates, who are disappointed that they have not made progress toward fulfilling their campaign promise to offer a permanent legal solution to undocumented immigrants during their first year in office.

Immigrants and their allies have demonstrated across the country, from Washington to Los Angeles, in recent weeks to pressure Democrats to include social safety nets and a path to citizenship in the climate bill.

Protesters blocked traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge during the morning rush hour last Thursday, and called on Senate Democrats to “take immediate action to protect all immigrant families,” according to a statement from organizers.

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