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Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities


Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities

The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security sent a memorandum to the leaders of the federal government’s three primary immigration agencies on January 20, 2021 – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The memorandum directs DHS to conduct a review of policies and practices concerning immigration enforcement and it halts most deportations for 100 days beginning on January 22, 2021.  The memorandum does not stop court hearings and does not prevent immigration judges from ordering removal – it just stops Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from carrying out any deportation orders.

The memorandum also puts in some interim enforcement priorities which will go into effect on February 1, 2021 and will include:

  1. National Security – Individuals who have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, or whose apprehension, arrest and/or custody is otherwise necessary to protect the national security of the United States.
  2. Border Security – Individuals apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States on or after November 1, 2020, or who were not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020.
  3. Public Safety – 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.

More detailed enforcement priorities should be released within the next few months.

The order also rescinds previous enforcement memos such as the “NTA memo” which ordered USCIS to initiate removal proceedings in nearly all cases.

You can read the full memorandum here.

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