Changing Tides: ICE & CBP Will Limit Arrests at Courthouses & Stop Using Certain Harmful Language When Referring to Immigrants in the United States

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Changing Tides: ICE & CBP Will Limit Arrests at Courthouses & Stop Using Certain Harmful Language When Referring to Immigrants in the United States

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On April 27, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS; Department) announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will no longer be allowed to arrest people in or near courthouses for most immigration violations. This marks a drastic change in policy and attitude from the Department, as the DHS Secretary now explicitly recognizes the “chilling effect” that “civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had … on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”

Colorado already had a law in place, Senate Bill 83, which, since March 23, 2020, has prohibited ICE from making civil immigration arrests while a person is in a courthouse or on its property or if the person is going to or from a court proceedings. However, beginning now, nationwide, courthouse arrests will only occur in certain limited instances, including situations involving: (1) national security matters; (2) imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to someone; (3) hot pursuit of an individual who poses a threat to public safety; (4) imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to a criminal case; or  (5) public safety threats in the absence of hot pursuit where necessary and with prior approval.

Additionally, last week, on April 19, 2021, the Biden administration issued memos to ICE and CBP department heads, ordering them to stop using harmful and divisive terms used by the prior administration, such as “alien,” “illegal,” and “assimilation,” when referring to immigrants in the United States. Instead, they will be required to use “noncitizen” or “migrant,” “undocumented,” and “integration,” respectively.

All of these changes appear to be in line with the administration’s stated goals of changing attitudes and fostering unity and inclusion in the context of immigration, which immigration advocates hope will eventually lead to concrete, larger-scale immigration reform.

Please note: This information is intended for educational purposes only. If you have questions about your eligibility for an immigration benefit or your immigration options, please contact Joseph & Hall at (303) 297-9171 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. If you are already a client of Joseph & Hall and have questions about your case, please contact your attorney to discuss your particular case.


Please stay tuned for continued updates via this website and our Facebook page.

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