WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday released new guidelines requiring undocumented immigrants to be prioritized for arrest, giving immigration and customs enforcement officers wide discretion and directing them to focus on people who pose a threat to public safety and the public safety. national security.
The priorities are designed to overturn the Trump administration’s arbitrary arrest policy, instead directing immigration officers to focus on each person rather than categories of offenses.
“The fact that a person is a removable non-citizen should not be the sole basis for enforcement action against them,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of Homeland Security, said Thursday. “That’s why we demand and, frankly, strengthen our workforce — critically, empower our workforce — to exercise their judgment.”
Such considerations include the seriousness of a past crime, what kind of damage it caused, and whether a firearm was involved. The guidelines also require agents to consider “advanced or young age” as a mitigating factor. Other considerations should be the impact arresting and ultimately deporting someone would have on the person’s family.
But some immigration attorneys said the new guidelines gave officers too much discretion and didn’t make it clear enough what exactly makes someone an arrest priority.
The memo released Thursday replaces interim guidelines issued at the beginning of the Biden administration which has faced legal challenges.
“The interim guidance provided clearer boundaries about what agents should or should not do, and a clearer process about how they should be applied,” said Lena Graber, senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “This new policy removes those limits.”
Early in his administration, President Donald J. Trump rejected his predecessor’s immigration enforcement policies and instead began arresting all non-citizens who were in the country without authorization, expediting deportations, and more often local law enforcement officers. to help enforce immigration law. Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the president wanted to take “the shackles” off ICE agents, which some agents said was a welcome change of heart at the time.