This week, we read about new guidelines for ICE, new protections for the DACA program, and an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Southern border.
This article is a transcript of a conversation between Leila Fadel, host of All Things Considered, and Joel Rose, an immigration expert at NPR.
Yesterday, the Biden administration released new guidelines for ICE, the enforcement arm of Homeland Security. The guidelines limit who ICE can target for deportation. Yet, the administration continues to use the Trump-era Title 42 policy at the border.
The Title 42 policy is technically a public health order that was put in place during the Trump administration. The policy is controversial because it allows border authorities to remove migrants without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum. Because of the policy, the Biden administration has removed thousands of Haitian migrants seeking asylum. Immigrant advocates oppose the policy and are trying to block it in court. However, a federal court ruling has deemed that the policy can stay in place for now. Immigration advocates have argued the policy puts migrant families in danger.
The new set of rules limits who ICE agents can target for arrest and deportation. This means that being undocumented can no longer be the sole reason for ICE to arrest someone. The new rules also outline who ICE should generally not attempt to deport. This list included farmworkers, elderly immigrants, and immigrant activists. This decision leaves Americans torn; conservatives don’t like the new decision, while others say the guidance is underwhelming.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration proposed a rule to strengthen the DACA program. DACA, a program created under President Obama, protects undocumented people that were brought to the U.S. as children.
The new rule from DHS would protect DACA, which was suspended under President Trump. The rule states that ‘DACA recipients should not be a priority for removal.’ This rule especially notes that DACA recipients came to the U.S. as children without the intent to break the law.
Many immigration advocates celebrate this decision. However, they also note that a formal legislative fix will be necessary to permanently protect the program and Dreamers.
While the new rule would allow for first-time applicants to receive DACA, it does not expand the program. The rule preserves the dates first outlined under the original version of the program, requiring applicants to have entered the United States in 2007 or before to have been present in 2012 when the program was created, and to have been born on or after June 16, 1981.
“So, a 5 year old that entered in 2010 who is 16 years old now and is in high school, is undocumented and otherwise following the rules and would like to go to college is shut out from this program, and why is that the case? We should be looking at expanding this program. There’s no reason to draw arbitrary lines to cut off people, some of whom have been in the country for years,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director of the American Immigration Council.
The proposed rule must still go through the full rulemaking process and public comment, so it could be months before new DACA applications will be accepted. Advocates hope by that time Congress will have passed a reconciliation bill that protects undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers, at least partially replacing the DACA program which was meant to be a temporary solution.
Since its start in 2012, the DACA program has been popular with the general public, giving DREAMers access to work and education.
Around 4,000 migrants at the border have been removed under Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy that has remained in place during the Biden administration. The policy allows border authorities to remove migrants without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the policy is a ‘public health authority’ not an immigration policy. Mayorkas said the policy is aimed to protect against threats of spreading COVID-19. The policy has been criticized by Democrats and immigration advocates.
Mayorkas also reported that about 13,000 migrants arrived in Del Rio in the same timeframe and are being put into removal proceedings.
The article reports that the administration has relied on Title 42 as a ‘public health authority’ to turn back migrants at the border.
Secretary Mayorkas insists that the policy has been amended to remove unethical aspects. He argues that it exists to fulfill public health requirements.
“If (the CDC) determines that the public health imperative no longer exists and Title 42, which is a statute, a law, need not be applied to protect people, then it will not be applied any longer and we will proceed accordingly,” said Secretary Mayorkas.