ACLU Response to DHS Memo on Enforcement and Removals

February 18, 2021 4:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a memo on interior enforcement today that outlines government policy that will apply during the next 90 days and addresses the scope of who DHS considers a priority for deportation and interior immigration enforcement.

Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the following statement:

“The memo is a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration’s earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies. While the Biden administration rightly acknowledges that immigrants are our family members, our coworkers, and our neighbors, for now it has chosen to continue giving ICE officers significant discretion to conduct operations that harm our communities and tear families apart.

“The interim enforcement priorities detailed today import the injustices of the criminal legal system and will lead to continued disproportionate deportations of Black and Brown immigrants. The priorities use sweeping and overbroad presumptions of threat that have for decades resulted in biased profiling and harmful immigration consequences for Black and Brown people, including Muslims. The priorities presume that all recent border crossers are threats, in total contravention of President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that people seeking asylum are treated with dignity.

“We expect better from the Biden administration, and believe that the next 90 days will continue to reaffirm the need to force ICE to downscale its operations, including by ending ICE programs that tap state and local law enforcement for immigration enforcement such as the 287(g) program and the use of ICE detainers. And we will demand accountability for the unjust arrests and deportations that ICE officers and their local partners will inflict on immigrant communities until DHS further reforms.

“At a time when Black immigrants are being deported, including to the lethal situation in Haiti, the Biden administration must not hesitate to put real limits on ICE. As it works to undo the chaos and cruelty of both the Trump and Obama administrations, the Biden administration must fully break from the racist and unfair policies of the past.”

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