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. The author of this post is Mairead Elordi
Some criminal illegal immigrants should not be targeted for deportation, the Biden administration is directing U.S. immigration authorities.
New Department of Homeland Security guidance released on Thursday directs border authorities to focus their efforts on apprehending and removing "those who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border.
"The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen, therefore, should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them. We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country's well-being require it,
" reads the seven-page memo from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae Johnson.
Not even every illegal immigrant who has committed a crime, however, should be targeted for deportation, the new guidance says. There may be "mitigating factors
" that make criminal immigrants less of a priority for enforcement action. These factors include the perpetrator's "advanced or tender age,
" a "mental condition that may have contributed to the criminal conduct,
" the amount of time since the crime was committed and evidence of rehabilitation, having been in the U.S. for a long time, having been a crime victim, the impact their deportation would have on their family in the U.S., and even military or other public service by the person or their immediate family.
Border authorities are also cautioned to base their decision about whether an illegal immigrant poses a current threat to public safety through an "assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances,
" and not on "bright lines or categories.
Authorities would also not be allowed to factor in a migrant's "exercise of their First Amendment rights,
" such as participating in a protest when deciding to take enforcement action against them, Mayorkas wrote.
The guidance will go into effect on Nov. 29.
The memo was criticized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who slammed the Biden administration for its lax immigration policies amid a crisis at the border.
"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,
" Cotton tweeted.
Last month, an influx of more than 14,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, including families, pregnant women, and babies crossed the southern border and camped near the Del Rio International Bridge. The sprawling camp was eventually fully cleared out by Friday, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it will reopen the port of entry in the area, which had been closed for a week after it was overwhelmed with migrants.
The situation had already deteriorated significantly in July, when border authorities encountered more than 212,000 migrants, the highest number since March 2000. In August, authorities encountered 209,000 people attempting to cross the border, compared to 50,000 people in the same month last year.
So far this year, authorities have encountered more than 1.4 million migrants at the southern border.
"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,
" Mayorkas wrote in the guidance.
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