Interim Civil Enforcement Guidelines
On January 20, 2021, Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske issued a memorandum requiring a review of immigration policies and sets interim enforcement guidelines effective February 1, 2021.
In the interim, the Department’s priorities are:
- National security. Individuals who have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, or whose apprehension, arrest and/or custody is otherwise necessary to protect the national security of the United States.
- Border security. Individuals apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States on or after November 1, 2020, or who were not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020.
- Public safety. Individuals incarcerated within federal, state, and local prisons and jails released on or after the issuance of this memorandum who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony,” as that term is defined in section 101(a) (43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act at the time of conviction and are determined to pose a threat to public safety.
The application of the enforcement policies and priorities include instances in which DHS must decide the following:
- Notices to Appear: Whether to issue, serve, file, or cancel an NTA;
- Arrests, Detention, and Release: Discretionary enforcement decisions, including deciding whom to stop, question, and arrest; whom to detain or release;
- ICE Engagement in Removal Proceedings: Whether to settle, dismiss, appeal, or join in a motion on a case; and
- Deferred Action or Parole: Whether to grant deferred action or parole.
This starkly contrasts the Trump Administration’s priorities, which included practically nearly all individuals who were unlawfully present.