DHS Pausing Some Deportations for 100 Days

January 21, 2021 Updated: January 21, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security said the incoming administration is pausing deportations for some illegal immigrants for 100 days.

The DHS said in a statement on Jan. 20 that for 100 days starting Jan. 22, it will “pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety.”

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the statement reads. “Throughout this interim period DHS will continue to enforce our immigration laws.”

Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske in a memorandum (pdf) directed agencies under the DHS to “review immigration enforcement policies and set interim policies for civil enforcement.” One of the interim policies is the 100-day pause on removals of certain illegal immigrants, which is to take place no later than Jan. 22.

He provided the exceptions to the rule, which include individuals who are found by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage or pose a danger to U.S. national security, or for whom the ICE acting director determines removal is required.

Other exceptions include individuals who were not physically in the United States prior to Nov. 1, 2020, and those who have “voluntarily agreed to waive any rights to remain in the United States.”

The directive applies to ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

ICE
ICE agents apprehend individuals with prior criminal convictions ranging from sexual abuse to rape, in Long Island, N.Y., on Nov. 4, 2019. (ICE)

Pekoske’s memo comes after President Joe Biden issued an “Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities,” which seeks to reverse aspects of Trump’s immigration enforcement, including revoking Trump’s Executive Order 13768 signed in 2017, which withheld federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Biden had promised the deportation moratorium on the campaign trail. Six of his 17 executive actions issued on Jan. 20 deal with immigration.

The “department-wide review” of policies and practices enforcing immigration that Pekoske directed involves multiple aspects.

The memo he issued reads, “Pursuant to the review, each component shall develop recommendations to address aspects of immigration enforcement, including policies for prioritizing the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets; policies governing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion; policies governing detention; and policies regarding interaction with state and local law enforcement.”

It continues: “These recommendations shall ensure that the Department carries out our duties to enforce the law and serve the Department’s mission in line with our values. The Chief of Staff shall provide recommendations for the issuance of revised policies at any point during this review and no later than 100 days from the date of this memo.”

The directive notes that in the meantime, the DHS’s priorities will be focused on individuals who pose a threat to U.S. national security, border security, and public safety.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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