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Politics Biden administration limits immigration enforcement at courthouses

21:45  27 april  2021
21:45  27 april  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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The Biden administration is directing its immigration enforcement agencies to largely steer clear of courthouses, part of an effort to combat a "chilling effect" that left migrants avoiding the legal system for fear of being deported.

a clock on the side of a building: Biden administration limits immigration enforcement at courthouses © istock Biden administration limits immigration enforcement at courthouses

A memo from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directs both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to avoid making arrests near courthouses, with a few exceptions.

The memo reverses a 2018 Trump-era policy encouraging ICE officers to enter courthouses to find migrants who "for one matter are wanted for unrelated criminal or civil violations."

US to limit immigration arrests at courthouses under Biden

  US to limit immigration arrests at courthouses under Biden WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigration arrests at courthouses will be more limited than they were under President Donald Trump under a change of policy announced Tuesday by the Biden administration. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would no longer be authorized to carry out routine arrests at courthouses, a practice that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said discouraged people from attending court hearings and cooperating with law enforcement.

The latest interim guidance from the Biden administration aims to "balance the importance of preserving access to courts."

"Ensuring that individuals have access to the courts advances the fair administration of justice, promotes safety for crime victims, and helps to guarantee equal protection under the law," Mayorkas said in a release.

"The expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals' willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement. Today's guidance is the latest step in our efforts to focus our civil immigration enforcement resources on threats to homeland security and public safety."

The Trump administration had identified courthouses as an ideal setting to conduct immigration enforcement, with its 2018 memo noting that "individuals entering courthouses are typically screened by law enforcement personnel to search for weapons and other contraband."

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"Civil immigration enforcement actions taken inside courthouses can reduce safety risks to the public, targeted alien(s), and ICE officers and agents," then-ICE Director Tom Homan wrote in the memo.

But critics complained the policy discouraged victims of crimes, witnesses and others from participating in court proceedings for fear of being deported.

The Biden administration policy does allow ICE and CBP officers to pursue courthouse arrests if they involve a national security matter, there is an imminent risk of death or violence, the person poses a threat to public safety or if there is an imminent risk evidence needed for a criminal case may be destroyed.

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