New Instructions for Prioritizing Removal of Non US Citizens Effective November 29, 2021
October 6th, 2021
At FitzGerald Law Company, we know that the last few years have been difficult for the immigrant community, and that the pandemic has created its own unique hardships. Fortunately, there has been some positive changes implemented by the Biden Administration regarding immigration and although there is much more that needs to be done, we received more good news last week that has the potential to benefit many individuals.
On September 30, 2021, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued instructions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers that established who is a priority for apprehension (arrest) and removal /deportation from the United States. In his Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law memorandum, Secretary Mayorkas expressly recognizes that the federal government has the discretion to decide when it is appropriate to pursue the removal of a person. This is called prosecutorial discretion and is a fundamental principle of the U.S. immigration system. Under former President Trump, prosecutorial discretion was used in a manner that resulted in the indiscriminate removal of valuable members of the immigrant community, as there was no prioritization of deportations weighing the cost/benefit to our communities of such deportations. President Biden’s administration, however, has a different approach that balances the government’s limited resources and the immigrant community’s undeniable contribution to our society and economy (i.e. immigrants launch new companies that create jobs twice as much as native-born Americans, they contribute 40% more than native-born Americans to overall U.S. patents and innovation, and added $2 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 2016).
Secretary Mayorkas has designated certain categories of individuals as a priority for apprehension and removal / deportation from the United States, including:
- Individuals who are suspected of engaging in terrorism;
- Individuals who have engaged in serious criminal conduct; and
- Individuals who are arrested at the border while trying to enter unlawfully, or who entered the U.S. unlawfully after November 1, 2020, and are later apprehended by immigration officials.
The memorandum lists multiple factors that can mitigate certain offenses and expressly denounces the use of immigration enforcement as a way of retaliating against people who exercise their rights (i.e. exercising employee or tenant rights, serving as a witness on a tenant or labor dispute or on a criminal case, appearing in a court for divorce or child custody proceeding, reporting a crime to the authorities, etc.) This is a way of protecting people in vulnerable housing, employment or family situations who have the courage to use the court system to assert their rights.
The priority guidelines will take effect on November 29, 2021, and it will allow the immigrant community, and their family members, to feel a sense of relief. With an administration such as the Biden administration, it is important to explore any options for relief that you may have at this time, so as to benefit from a more humane government approach to immigration. The experienced team of Boston immigration lawyers and professionals at FitzGerald Law Company can assist you with evaluating your options to legalize your immigration status in the U.S. Call today at (617) 303-2600, or fill our online appointment request form.