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Feb 19, 2021

Biden Administration Signals Broad Immigration Enforcement Changes

Stephen Antwine

The Biden Administration has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to review and update policies related to enforcement guidelines.  As an initial step, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released new guidance on immigration enforcement and removal categories. The enforcement priorities are divided into three main categories, as follow:

Priority Category 1: National security concerns--The arrest and detention of individuals engaging in, or suspected of engaging in terrorism, espionage or other activities to thwart the national security of the United States will be prioritized.

Priority Category 2: Border enforcement--The priority arrest and detention for border security will ensure apprehension of individuals attempting to unlawfully enter the United States on or after November 1, 2020. Similarly, those unlawfully present in the United States and not physically present in the United States on November 1, 2020 will be prioritized for detention.

Priority Category 3: Criminal History--Individuals with aggravated felony convictions, as defined in the immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(43) or those with gang affiliations will be prioritized.

Any individual falling into one of the above categories may be apprehended at the discretion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. 

Individuals who are not a member of one of these categories may be detained; however, the decision about how to process them is subject to further review.  That is, individuals who are not priorities will be subject to review by ICE officers to determine the best course of action, including: release on their own recognizance, issuance of a notice to appear in immigration court, granting of parole or other action.

The priority system outlined by the Biden Administration is reminiscent of the priorities imposed by the Obama Administration.  That said, these current changes, indicate that President Biden is taking a far more lenient approach to immigration enforcement in order to keep families united. These changes to enforcement priorities are likely just the beginning of the overhaul to the immigration enforcement agencies throughout the Department of Homeland Security.

If you or a family member have an existing order of deportation, or if you have questions about the Presidential Order, please contact Stephen Antwine, Esq. at Green & Spiegel, LLC at (215) 395-8959.

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Stephen Antwine

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