US Immigration Agency To Scale Back Aggressive Operations Amid Coronavirus

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) is scaling back the aggressive operations it launched under Donald Trump as the country contends with the new coronavirus outbreak

The US immigration agency announced on Wednesday that it was temporarily shifting priorities, focusing its efforts on tracking down people in the US without legal authorization who pose a risk to public safety or would be subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds.

The US immigration agency announced on Wednesday that it was temporarily shifting priorities, focusing its efforts on tracking down people in the US without legal authorization who pose a risk to public safety or would be subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds.

The agency said in a statement that its investigations unit would focus on public safety and national security, including drug and human trafficking as well as anti-gang operations and child exploitation cases.

In all other cases agents “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate”, the agency said.

Ice said the change was temporary and intended to ensure the welfare and safety of the public and its agents.

It will not carry out enforcement operations at or near healthcare facilities except in “the most extraordinary circumstances” during the crisis.

The temporary policies announced on Wednesday in response to the pandemic resemble the Obama administration’s “felons, not families” approach.

Under the previous administration, immigrants without serious criminal offenses were often spared deportation. Donald Trump changed priorities, and his administration has often underscored that all undocumented immigrants are subject to deportation.

The new Ice policy comes after immigration lawyers joined with labor unions representing Ice prosecutors and immigration judges to ask the justice department to temporarily close the immigration courts. Though there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ice detention facilities, doctors and public health officials have warned that detained populations are at high risk.

By theguardian.com
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