WASHINGTON – Lora Ries, Heritage Foundation senior research fellow for homeland security and former acting DHS deputy chief of staff, released the following statement Friday in response to radical new guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on detention and deportation of illegal immigrants:
“President Biden ran the 2020 campaign promising to ‘return to norms.’ His new immigration proposal and his new guidance to ICE show that was a complete lie.
“Many, including Heritage’s first-class immigration team, have already covered the massive amnesty provision at the center of the proposal, but it is also packed with norm-busting changes to long-standing U.S. law. Under the proposal, American taxpayers would be forced to pay for legal representation for illegal immigrants, and the term ‘illegal alien’ would no longer be used in official government documents – erasing the distinction between illegal aliens, temporary visitors, and lawful permanent residents.
“However, even more troubling is radical new guidance from ICE – guidance which will eviscerate federal law enforcement’s ability to do its job. For starters, it instructs federal agents to prioritize detention and deportation only of those engaged in, or suspected to be engaged in, terrorism or espionage, or whose detention is critical to ‘national security.’ This standard will likely apply to a mere handful of the thousands of migrants streaming across the border each day. Those who commit supposedly ‘less serious’ crimes while here, or who are apprehended through normal law enforcement operations, will essentially be given a free pass.
“The guidance goes further, however, requiring agents to seek pre-approval from their field office or special agent in charge if they want to pursue action against any individual not covered under the guidance’s ‘priority cases’ criteria – terrorists, spies, and convicted aggravated felons – and then write weekly reports to justify these pursuits. The criteria also include those who arrived in the U.S. after Nov. 1, 2020 – an impossible factor for agents to accurately determine in the course of doing their jobs. Law enforcement professionals estimate these guidelines will take 90 percent of those here illegally off the table when it comes to detention or deportation.
“In essence, ICE agents are being told to back down from enforcing the law and doing their jobs. Sadly, this guidance is forcing law enforcement officers to choose between protecting Americans and protecting their careers.
“Forget sanctuary cities – this turns America into a sanctuary country. Prominent Leftists have spent the past months calling to ‘abolish ICE.’ The Biden administration effectively just made their wish come true.”