The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are working to “reevaluate” enforcement operations on sex offenders after a recent executive order issued by President Joe Biden.
“According to our Sex Offender Investigations Branch chief, the USMS is working with ICE to reevaluate upcoming enforcement operations to ensure compliance with recent Executive Orders issued by the POTUS,” the USMS told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), asserted in an article published Wednesday, “ICE had been planning a nationwide operation in partnership with the U.S. Marshals targeting at-large sex offenders, but it was scuttled by the new directive.”
Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske had issued the new directive (pdf) on Jan. 20 in response to Biden’s executive order, which revoked former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13768 signed in 2017. Trump’s executive order had, in part, ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, to prioritize the removal of illegal aliens who “have been convicted of any criminal offense” or “charged with any criminal offense, where the charge has not been resolved.”
The new DHS directive under the Biden administration had also imposed a 100-day pause on deportations starting Jan. 22 for certain illegal aliens who were ordered to leave, pending the completion of a review of immigration enforcement policies. A federal judge temporarily blocked the order for 14 days on Jan. 26—a victory for Texas, whose attorney general sued the Biden administration over the executive order.
In the directive, the DHS said it would, during the deportation freeze, be prioritizing in part, “Individuals incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails released on or after the issuance of this memorandum who have been convicted of an ‘aggravated felony,’ as that term is defined in section 101(a) (43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act at the time of conviction, and are determined to pose a threat to public safety.”
The new rules, according to Vaughan, only allow for “a very narrow set of cases of aliens” to be deported—in particular, “only those classified as current ‘aggravated felons,’ or the most serious criminals who are still in the custody of local authorities.” Most prior convictions would not count, and are “categorically excused” if they happened 10 or more years ago, she wrote.
The strict conditions mean that “only a rare few of the criminal aliens arrested throughout the country will be removable, and even many aliens who do have convictions for crimes of violence would be protected if the convictions occurred more than 10 years ago,” she asserted.
An unnamed ICE source told Vaughan that most of the at-large illegal alien sex offenders that USMS and ICE are targeting “do not clearly meet the new standards, especially in California, where sex offenders routinely get to plead down to far lesser charges, especially if it helps them avoid deportation, and where certain sex crimes, such as sex with a minor, are not classified as felonies as they are in other states.”
“Another ICE officer told me that they had more than two dozen deportable sex offender targets at large in his area who now will be free to re-offend,” Vaughan wrote.
Thomas Homan, a former ICE acting director, told Fox News that the agency has canceled a national operation called “Operation Talon” that targets convicted sex offenders who are illegal aliens.
The White House and ICE did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.
Biden had signed multiple executive actions on the first day of his presidency that rescinded Trump administration policies that were working to reduce the flow of illegal immigration. The initiatives are part of Biden’s plan to legalize about 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States, something he had vowed during his campaign.
More than 50 House Republicans on Tuesday in a letter called on President Joe Biden to take action to secure the border and warned him about a “rising illegal immigration crisis” starting at the southern border, citing increases in the number of immigrants just a few weeks into the new presidency.
Allen Zhong contributed to this report.