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In a new memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Acting Secretary David Pekoske directs the Department to review its “policies and practices concerning immigration enforcement.” As part of this review – and to refocus resources – the Department has also issued a 100-day pause on certain removals.

Who Can Be Removed?

The 100-day pause applies to all activities associated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the Homeland Security Chief of Staff conducts a Department-wide review, removals are focused on:

  • Individuals who have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who pose a threat to the national security of the United States.
  • Individuals who attempt to unlawfully enter the border or ports of entry, or who were not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020.
  • Individuals who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” or pose a threat to public safety.

If an individual does not match the characteristics outlined above, they should not be served with a Notice to Appear, and some existing Notices should be canceled. ICE officers should also use these criteria when deciding whom to stop, question, and arrest.

Any enforcement or detention that occurs must also adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Pekoske has instructed the Department of Homeland security to focus its resources on pressing security threats, the public health crisis, and the situation at the southwest border.

This means people like migrant families and undocumented farmworkers will not be removed from the United States unless they have been convicted of serious crimes – at least until the memo expires or is no longer valid. It also means migrants with existing deportation cases may see more leniency than they have in recent years.

If you have questions about how the January 20th memo might affect your current immigration case or path to citizenship in 2021, please contact The Modi Law Firm, PLLC for personalized legal advice. You can reach us at (832) 514-4030 or online.

Please be aware that change is coming in 2021 and throughout the Biden-Harris administration. You may also want to read our article, “Biden Commits to Immigration Reform,” and we encourage you to check our immigration blog for regular updates.