ICE to Start Arresting Noncriminal Migrants Again

According a to a Miami Herald Report published on September 29. 2020, immigration officials revealed that they would be back to their usual apprehension and detention operations.

This marks a notable change from the previous suspension of “noncriminal” enforcement due to the Wuhan virus pandemic.

On September 25, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made an update to its Wuhan virus information webpage declaring that the agency is “confident that our officers can properly and safely carry out operations.”

The statement added:

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we have taken several precautionary measures — from ensuring that our front-line operators have adequate personal protective equipment, maximizing telework for agency personnel whose duties do not require them to be in the office, completing temperature checks before removal, and requiring the isolating of detainees as appropriate to prevent the spread in detention facilities.

The announcement was made in a rather quiet manner, in contrast to its standard operating procedure, and was not sent out to media outlets. This update replaced an agency statement that ICE publicly unveiled back in March, when it said at the time that it would “adjust its enforcement posture.” In the new statement, there is no longer mention of using more “discretion” when arresting “noncriminal” illegal aliens.

In an email that the Miami Herald obtained, ICE said the agency “does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

Throughout the Wuhan virus pandemic, the agency had repeatedly said it would concentrate its enforcement on “public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.” Some of these examples consisted of probes into child exploitation, gangs, drug trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and terrorism. For individuals who don’t fit under those categories, the agency said it would “delay enforcement actions until after the crisis.”

In contrast to its previous announcement, ICE’s new statement left out information about any immigrant population it would refuse to arrest and detain.In email correspondence with the Miami Herald, Andrea Flores, deputy immigration policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union, remarked: “The pandemic is very much still ongoing, and disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities.”

“More than 205,200 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, and more than 7.15 million people in the country have been diagnosed with the disease,” she stated. “By resuming civil enforcement, ICE is increasing the likelihood that more immigrants and (Department of Homeland Security) staff will be exposed to this virus, not only in enforcement operations, but also in detention facilities.”

“ICE has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to provide safe and sanitary conditions — even in the best of circumstances. This is an overtly political decision 35 days from Election Day that will lead to even more avoidable deaths and COVID-19 infections,” Flores observing. “ICE should be suspending civil immigration enforcement and reducing the number of people in immigration detention, not increasing the population with new arrests.”

“Noncriminal” immigrant is an oxymoronic term. Even if an illegal alien is not a drug trafficker, human trafficker, terrorist, or part of organized crime, their illegal entry into the country is a criminal act.

Unlike Mexico and other jurisdictions that resemble failed states, America is a nation of laws. The Trump administration, despite some hiccups here and there, has made sure to put border security as a major policy plank through Trump’s first term. A pandemic should not deter ICE from fulfilling its basic functions, and it’s good to see that they are going back to their usual business.

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