DHS Announces End to Immigration Enforcement at Courthouses
FAIR Take | April 2021
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced new limits on immigration enforcement actions in courthouses. This reverses a Trump-era policy that allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to arrest removal aliens at courthouses.
According to the announcement, this policy nullifies a 2018 ICE directive and is the first time that such a directive has ever applied to CBP. Courthouse arrest bans are a popular proposal of the open-borders lobby and further shackle ICE’s ability to perform its congressionally-mandated role of interior immigration enforcement.
The statement reads that the ban applies in all cases except in situations where there is “(1) a national security concern, (2) there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person, (3) it involves hot pursuit of an individual who poses a threat to public safety, or (4) there is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to a criminal case.”
While unsurprising, this directive is extremely disappointing. ICE’s congressionally-mandated role involves making interior arrests of any removable alien. This directive completely undercuts that mandate and makes it significantly harder for ICE to do their job. Worse, it puts ICE agents in harm’s way by creating the need for more at-large — rather than targeted — arrests in the community.
This move also highlights how quickly Secretary Mayorkas has used his position as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to make a number of changes to departmental and agency immigration policy. If and when the Senate confirms Biden’s controversial picks to CBP and ICE, these changes could begin ramping up in earnest. FAIR will continue monitoring these agency and department level policy changes and evaluate how it will impact federal immigration enforcement.