The Biden administration on Friday began halting most deportations for 100 days so it can “review and reset enforcement priorities” following a Trump administration that instituted a “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migrants.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske announced the policy this week, which fulfills a campaign promise by President Joe Biden to immediately move away from the hard-line stance of U.S. immigration policy under former President Donald Trump.
“[We] will pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security and public safety,” the department said in a statement.
“The pause will allow [us] to ensure that [our] resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century.”
The moratorium on deportations is just one of several moves Biden made this week regarding immigration policy, which is expected under his leadership to return to a far more humanitarian state.
For the next 100 days, until May 2, migrants can still be deported if they have engaged in terrorism or espionage or are suspected of doing so, or if they are considered a threat to national security. The ICE administrator can also intervene in individual deportation cases.
Immigration policy under Trump was virtually a nonstop controversy for his entire presidency, particularly when it became known that border agents were separating families and keeping some children in locked isolation.
Trump also spent millions to build a border wall and instituted a so-called “Muslim travel ban” that denied U.S. entry for people from several Muslim-majority nations.
“The Trump administration has done more than fail in its commitment to children,” Henry Giroux, a cultural studies professor at McMaster University, wrote for UPI in 2019. “It has abused, terrorized and scarred them.”
Biden has already begun taking steps to reverse Trump’s immigration policies.
After his inauguration on Wednesday, he rescinded the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and introduced a comprehensive immigration reform package that includes a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented migrants.
In a memo this week detailing the pause on deportations, Pekoske told U.S. Customs and Border Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees that their priorities are protecting national security, border security and public safety, at least until the administration completes its review.
Pekoske said the process will “enable the development, issuance, and implementation of detailed revised enforcement priorities.”
“Throughout this interim period DHS will continue to enforce our immigration laws,” the department added.
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