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New policy designates ‘protected areas’ for immigrants

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Immigration Law

On Oct. 27, the Biden administration announced new guidelines protecting more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States from enforcement actions.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection field agents received a detailed memo directing them to refrain from enforcement actions in specific areas.

Locations designated under the policy

Effective immediately, the guidelines instruct agents not to make arrests, conduct searches, serve subpoenas or take any other enforcement actions in so-called “protected areas.” These include:

  • Schools and university campuses
  • Medical facilities, including hospitals
  • Playgrounds
  • Day care centers
  • Foster care facilities
  • COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites
  • Places of worship
  • Domestic violence and homeless shelters
  • Food pantries
  • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • Red Cross shelters and others helping victims of natural disasters
  • Funerals
  • Parades
  • Public demonstrations

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas says agents should consider the broader societal impact of their enforcement activities on communities.

Exceptions included in new guidance

Under the policy, agents must get permission to take enforcement actions in or near these protected areas. But exceptions exist, such as when national security is at risk, along with the imminent risk of death, violence or harm to a person, or if officers are pursuing an individual deemed a public safety threat.

The policy allows enforcement action against individuals seen illegally crossing the border or when necessary to preserve evidence in a criminal case. Mayorkas says the government doesn’t have the resources to pursue all undocumented persons and should focus on those who pose the greatest risk to society.