- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it will hold off on most of its arrests due to coronavirus fears
- The agency will focus more heavily on apprehending those who may be a public safety risk or who have committed serious criminal acts
- ICE said the policy change was designed to ‘ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents’
- ICE has nearly 38,000 undocumented immigrants under detention
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday it will stop the majority of its arrests of undocumented immigrants as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency says it will focus its attention and resources on capturing those who may be a public safety risk or who have committed serious criminal acts.
The decision is one of several recent emergency moves that could hamper President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration crackdown.
According to a statement from the agency, it has adopted the temporary policy to ‘ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents’.
As of Thursday morning, United States health officials had reported 152 deaths and 9,414 positive cases related to the deadly virus.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have decided to delay the arrest of most illegal immigrants unless they ‘pose public safety threat’
ICE has nearly 38,000 undocumented immigrants under detention, but the American Civil Liberties Union demanded Washington state to release sick and elderly detainees
ICE has close to 38,000 undocumented immigrants under detention.
The agency also said it wouldn’t arrest anyone near hospitals or health clinics ‘except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,’ after pro-immigrant activists reported that many undocumented immigrants were shying away from seeking health advice over fears that they would be arrested and fall under President Donald Trump’s ‘public charge rule.’
‘It continues to be the immigration policy of the United States that – aliens within the Nation’s borders not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations,’ according to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 which was amended in February.
‘Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement,’ ICE said.
ICE decided to change its policy after immigrant rights activists began complaining when the agency wouldn’t slow down its enforcement efforts. The criticism came after public officials reportedly called for ICE to increase social distancing.
‘For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, [ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations] will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.’
Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin will refuse to accept new ICE detainees into its jail, citing the risk of coronavirus infection.
According to the Los Angeles Times, ‘More than 45 organizations signed a letter this week calling on the Department of Homeland Security to suspend such actions.’
To keep from spreading coronavirus, police departments around the country decided to adopt similar policies.
Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn have all de-emphasized low-level crimes and have given their officers the discretion not to arrest suspects.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union demanded Washington state to release sick and elderly detainees.
The announcement of an ICE slowdown comes as another federal agency is dealing with a potential coronavirus crisis.
Close to 500 Homeland Security employees have been quarantined due to potential coronavirus infection. That includes at least 13 who are confirmed to have the virus.