Thanks in large part to President Joe Biden’s decidedly lax enforcement of border security and immigration laws, there has been a massive surge of illegal border crossings this year that some critics have likened to a slow-rolling foreign invasion of the United States.
Now, the crisis at the border will likely only get worse, as Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has issued new guidelines that will further limit the already reduced number of deportations, the Washington Examiner reports.
In essence, the memo from Mayorkas substantially reduces the abilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to detain and deport undocumented migrants by requiring them to consider a variety of unspecified “mitigating factors” and to err on the side of allowing a “removable noncitizen” to remain in the country illegally.
“For the first time, our guidelines will, in the pursuit of public safety, require an assessment of the individual and take into account the totality of the facts and circumstances,” Mayorkas said in the DHS memo released Thursday.
New rules for ICE
In his memo Thursday, Mayorkas said the Biden administration was “guided by the knowledge that there are individuals in our country who have been here for generations and contributed to our country’s well-being, including those who have been on the frontline in the battle against COVID, lead congregations of faith, and teach our children.”
“As we strive to provide them with a path to status,” he said, “we will not work in conflict by spending resources seeking to remove those who do not pose a threat and, in fact, make our Nation stronger.”
Mayorkas went on to stress in his memo that “noncitizens” who pose direct threats to “national security, public safety, and border security” will still be eligible for detention and removal, but he noted that these new guidelines move away from the prior “categorical approach” to such.
Instead, according to the memo, the new guidelines require an “assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances” before a decision can be made on detainment or removal.
“The new guidelines will enable our Department to most effectively accomplish our law enforcement mission and, at the same time, advance our country’s well-being by recognizing the invaluable contributions of millions of individuals who are part of the fabric of our communities,” Mayorkas said in his statement. “The guidelines will help us exercise our prosecutorial discretion to achieve justice.”
The system is still broken
In conjunction with the release of those new guidelines, Mayorkas also spoke with The Washington Post about the requirements that ICE agents will face in determining whether an illegal alien should be detained and deported or not.
“Are we going to spend the time apprehending and removing the farmworker who is breaking his or her back to pick fruit that we all put on our tables?” the secretary said. “Because if we pursue that individual, we will not be spending those same resources on somebody who does, in fact, threaten our safety. And that is what this is about.”
Arguably the one good thing to come out of these new guidelines is an apparent restoration of trust in the discretion of individual ICE agents — a change from the Feb. 18 interim guidelines that had required ICE agents to seek explicit approval from a supervisor to detain or deport an illegal alien that didn’t fall into one of a few specific categories. But even Mayorkas had to admit that the new rules could still result in convicted criminal migrants being allowed to stay in the U.S., while others with no prior record could be deported.