The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, portrayed the new guidelines, which are considered temporary until a permanent policy comes down in about three months, as a smarter use of limited resources at an agency that has about 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigration enforcement in the US would be more targeted under President Joe Biden than under his predecessor, with authorities directed to focus on people in the country illegally who pose a threat, according to guidelines announced Thursday.
The guidelines set a new course for US Customs and Immigration Enforcement, which drew fierce criticism under President Donald Trump for arresting and removing anyone in the country illegally regardless of criminal history or community ties.
Under Biden, ICE would primarily apprehend and remove people who pose a threat to national security, committed crimes designated as “aggravated” felonies or recently crossed the border.
It is the latest break from Trump’s immigration policies, but it is also far from the notion of “abolish ICE“ that became a rallying cry among some progressives angered by what they considered indiscriminate enforcement.
Trump, whose administration took hundreds of measures to restrict both legal and illegal immigration, early on directed ICE to apprehend anyone who was in the country illegally.
In June 2019, he tweeted that “next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”
That never happened.
Total deportations were higher under the first term of President Barack Obama, who also made national security and public safety an enforcement priority, than under Trump in part because many cities and states, opposed to his administration’s approach to immigration, balked at cooperating with ICE on removals.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, portrayed the new guidelines, which are considered temporary until a permanent policy comes down in about three months, as a smarter use of limited resources at an agency that has about 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel.
“Like every law enforcement agency at the local, state, and federal level, we must prioritise our efforts to achieve the greatest security and safety impact,” ICE acting Director Tae Johnson said in announcing the new guidelines.
But ICE officers and agents have expressed concern in recent days about a top-down directive that will limit their ability to conduct enforcement operations and inevitably result in potentially dangerous people slipping from their grasp, said Jon Feere, a senior adviser to ICE under Trump.