ACLU Outlines Key Priorities for Biden’s Department of Homeland Security

January 18, 2021 9:45 am

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WASHINGTON — Ahead of Secretary-designate Alejandro Mayorkas’ Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow, the American Civil Liberties Union urged him to make strong, on-the-record commitments on five critical immigration issues:

  1. Family Separation: Although the government can never fully undo these harms, it has an obligation to reunify all separated families (in the United States, if the family so chooses), end family separations moving forward, and provide redress and other support to repair the damage it inflicted. We urge you to commit to specific uses of your power as DHS Secretary to help make these families whole. Every day without action makes it harder to find and reunite families, and deepens the stain on America’s conscience.
  2. ICE Entanglement with State and Local Agencies: Announce your intention to end the 287(g) program, eliminate ICE requests and demands that other agencies detain people for immigration enforcement, and order an agency review of all ICE programs and practices that entangle state and local law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement.
  3. ICE Detention: Announce that in conjunction with the 100-day moratorium, ICE will carry out a file review of every person in custody and announce your intention to close facilities with egregious records of rights abuses, including those with high death rates and those that are in remote locations where access to counsel and families is difficult, and to take more appropriate precautions for COVID-19.
  4. CBP Detention of Asylum-seekers: We urge the incoming administration to rescind Trump administration policies that eliminate access to asylum, including the CDC’s “Title 42” border orders and the Migrant Protection Protocols. Moreover, at tomorrow’s hearing we urge you to state that the administration’s plans to expeditiously restart asylum processing at the border will not involve CBP detention of asylum-seekers.
  5. Access to Citizenship: Pledge that if confirmed, you will end unfair barriers to citizenship by terminating discriminatory programs like CARRP, ensuring non-citizens serving in the military have access to an expedited path to citizenship, and dismantling the new infrastructure established to advance denaturalization efforts.

To follow through on Mayorkas’ commitment that the United States will once again be a “country of welcome,” the Biden administration must both unwind the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies and advance reforms that take the U.S. forward as a nation.

The following is a statement from Ronald Newman, national political director for the ACLU:

“Following four years of systematic attacks on immigrants — especially Black and Brown immigrants — by the Trump administration, justice for immigrants requires more than a return to the pre-Trump era; we must build our immigration system back better and fairer: to allow families to be together, provide access to immigration benefits like citizenship without discrimination, and leave behind punitive policies that needlessly detain people. Secretary-designate Mayorkas has an opportunity to chart the path forward for the United States to return to our core value of E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one.”

The letter is available here:

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