Biden Administration Restricts ICE and CBP from Enforcing Immigration Laws in Many “Protected Areas”
FAIR Take | October 2021
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a policy memorandum this week to further prohibit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from initiating immigration enforcement actions in certain locations, calling these locations “protected areas.” Specifically, the policy prohibits ICE and CBP officers from enforcing the law at or even near an area where people engage in essential activities.”
Subject to only narrow national security and public safety examples, the policy provided a long, non-exhaustive list of examples where enforcement actions are generally prohibited. Aside from sensitive areas that officers already are generally prohibited from initiating enforcement actions, the list also includes locations such as places where there is an ongoing parade, demonstration or rally; a myriad of social service establishments; colleges and vocational or trade schools; places of religious study; and places where children may generally be present. This week’s policy follows closely behind Secretary Mayorkas’s Oct. 12 policy that severely restricted officer’s ability to enforce immigration law at an alien’s place of employment.
Enforcement actions that are prohibited by this policy include, but are not limited to, arrests, civil apprehensions, searches, inspections, seizures, service of charging documents or subpoenas, interviews, and immigration enforcement surveillance. In the event that an officer believes it is necessary to implement an enforcement action in a “protected area” for reasons related to national security or public safety, the policy requires that the officers must document the justification and, if possible, receive prior approval from a supervisor.
By issuing this policy in tandem with the Department’s narrow enforcement priorities and the Oct. 12 policy restricting immigration enforcement at employment locations, the Biden administration is ensuring the enforcement of immigration laws nearly impossible to initiate. “[ICE] still exists, but it has been stripped of all of its functions with regard to the enforcement of immigration laws. Nearly all illegal aliens are already off-limits to enforcement due to a Sep. 30 memo, and as a result of Mayorkas’ ‘expanded and non-exhaustive list of protected areas,’ where ICE agents are permitted to do their work, the secretary has essentially nullified an entire body of constitutionally enacted laws,” said FAIR President Dan Stein.
In the midst of the largest border surge in U.S. history, the Biden administration is demonstrating its commitment to prioritizing open borders advocates’ wishes to allow aliens to live in the United States without concern of immigration law enforcement over the American people’s interest to have their laws faithfully executed by their government. To date, CBP reports apprehending over 1,734,686 aliens at the southern border in fiscal year 2021, the highest apprehension total on record. This number does not include the high rate of “got-aways,” or aliens that officers detected at the border but were unable to apprehend.