DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
The Department of Homeland Security will place limits on civil immigration arrests and other enforcement actions in or near courthouses, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday.
Mayorkas said that the Trump administration’s “expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses … had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”
Enforcement actions will now be permitted “only in certain limited instances,” said a statement from DHS, including national security matters, imminent risk of death or physical harm, “hot pursuit” of someone who is “a threat to public safety,” or when there is risk of destruction of evidence in a criminal case.
NBC News reported in 2018 that undocumented immigrants who feared apprehension by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were hesitant to testify at trials or confront alleged domestic abusers in court.
Under President Trump, an ICE directive stepped up enforcement at courthouses. According to a DHS statement Tuesday, the new policy supersedes that 2018 directive. “The interim guidance is intended to balance the importance of preserving access to courts in the fair administration of justice with legitimate civil enforcement interests. Additional guidance will be forthcoming.”
The acting heads of ICE and CBP have issued a memorandum to ICE and CBP personnel about the limited circumstances in which enforcement actions may now be carried out in or near a courthouse.
ICE and CBP will also give a monthly report to Mayorkas and to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on request that details all planned or executed civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses and the reasons for them.
“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,” said Mayorkas. “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.”
Story from NBC News
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