A pause in deporting certain noncitizens from the U.S. will be in effect for 100 days starting Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday.
The pause will be in effect while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviews immigration enforcement policies and practices, according to Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske. The pause will allow officials to “review and reset” policies to focus on public safety, border and national security.
“The United States faces significant operational challenges at the southwest border as it is confronting the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” Pekoske said in the memorandum.
“In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security,” Peloske added.
— Aline Barros (@AlineBarros2) January 21, 2021
Noncitizens who have been issued a final order of removal will not be deported during the department’s pause, according to the memorandum. Only noncitizens who have been involved in terrorism or espionage, or who have volunteered to waive rights to remain, or who were not in the U.S. prior to Nov. 1, or who must be deported by law will be subject to removal.
DHS is unable to remove every person who is illegally in the U.S. due to “limited resources,” according to the memorandum. The agency will prioritize public safety, national and border security concerns which will impact decisions on “whom to stop, question, and arrest; whom to detain or release; whether to settle, dismiss, appeal, or join in a motion on a case; and whether to grant deferred action or parole.
The department’s resources will be prioritized to “provide sufficient staff and resources to enhance border security and conduct immigration and asylum processing at the southwest border fairly and efficiently,” and to “comply with COVID-19 protocols to protect the health and safety of DHS personnel and those members of the public with whom DHS personnel interact,” according to the memorandum.
DHS Chief of Staff Karen Olick is responsible for developing recommendations for detention space, removal assets, detention policies, among several other aspects of the operations of the agencies under DHS including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to the memorandum.