ICE Shutting Down Most Immigration Enforcement During Coronavirus Epidemic
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday that the agency would cease most of its immigration enforcement operations during the nationwide coronavirus emergency, a move that leaves many spectators concerned about the possibility of illegal aliens taking advantage of the agency’s freeze.
An official ICE statement on the change in approach confirmed that for the time being, the agency is returning to its old Obama Administration-era priority of focusing solely on illegals with felony convictions. The vast majority of illegal immigrants won’t be targeted for immigration enforcement during this time.
The agency will not “will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.”
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”
At the very least, immigration enforcement actions by the agency are being delayed until the presence of the virus passes over.
The approach is similar to that adopted by the law enforcement agencies of several major American cities. Philadelphia’s District Attorney and Police Department have already issued an internal memorandum ordering that individuals committing nominally “petty” crimes such as burglary, vandalism, property theft and prostitution won’t be arrested during the height of the pandemic. Officers will instead retain their information for criminal prosecution at a later date.
However, Customs and Border Patrol is said to be turning away all asylum seekers and illegal immigrants seeking access at the nation’s borders. Federal refugee resettlement has also been suspended for the time being.