On Wednesday, March 18, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced that amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, they would halt the number of arrests among undocumented immigrants, but only for those who do not pose an imminent threat to American citizens.
According to a statement, under this new “enforcement posture,” President Trump’s administration will instead focus their efforts on those that are “public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.” This means the agency will continue to oversee investigations into immigrants suspected of human trafficking, child exploitation, terrorism, and drug trafficking, CBS News reported.
“For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, [ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations] will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate,” the ICE statement read.
In addition, ICE stressed that they will cease raids “at or near health care facilities, including hospitals, doctor’s offices and urgent care facilities except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.” They also reassured undocumented immigrants that in the wake of this deadly pandemic, they should not worry about being apprehended if they seek medical care.
As NPR noted, this move came after dozens of organizations blasted the agency for “for its continued enforcement operations despite widespread orders by public officials to begin ramping up social distancing efforts.” However, it’s unknown if this new plan will include releasing certain detained immigrants, CBS writes.
As of March 20, ICE says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of their detainment camps across the U.S. and that they have put social visits on hold.
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