DHS Issues New Guidance Restricting Enforcement Actions in Protected Areas

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DHS Issues New Guidance Restricting Enforcement Actions in Protected Areas

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On October 27, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidance designed to limit the enforcement actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in or near protected areas such as schools, medical facilities, places of worship, and social service establishments.

In rolling out the new policy, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas explained:

In our pursuit of justice, including in the execution of our enforcement responsibilities, we impact people’s lives and advance our country’s well-being in the most fundamental ways. It is because of the profound impact of our work that we must consider so many different factors before we decide to act. . . . When we conduct an enforcement action – whether it is an arrest, search, service of a subpoena, or other action – we need to consider many factors, including the location in which we are conducting the action and its impact on other people and broader societal interest.

The guidance provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of protected areas. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Schools, such as known and licensed daycares, pre-schools, and other early learning programs; primary schools; secondary schools; post-secondary schools up to and including colleges and universities; as well as scholastic or education-related activities or events
  • Medical treatment and healthcare facilities, including COVID-19 vaccination locations
  • Places of worship or religious study, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples
  • Places where children gather such as a playground, recreation center, childcare center, before- or after-school care center, foster care facility, group home for children, or school bus stop
  • Social services establishments such as a crisis center, domestic violence shelter, victims services center, child advocacy center, supervised visitation center, family justice center, community-based organization, facility that serves disabled persons, homeless shelter, drug or alcohol counseling and treatment facility, or food bank or pantry or other establishment distributing food or other essentials of life to people in need
  • Disaster or emergency response and relief centers
  • Religious or civil ceremonies or observances, such as funerals and weddings
  • Public demonstrations, such as parades, demonstrations, or rallies


These new guidelines are effective immediately.

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