Tommy Gilligan / AP
In another reversal of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policy, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that federal agents will no longer be permitted to detain people in or near courts for most immigration violations.
at statementNational Security Minister Alejandro Mayuras said such arrests interfere with the administration of justice and public safety. “The expansion of civil immigration arrests in the courts during the previous administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ desire to appear in court or to work cooperatively with law enforcement,” said Mayuras.
Previous policy, Officially in 2018In, ICE authorized entry into federal, state, and local courts to arrest people who have been there for reasons unrelated to their immigration status. Witnesses at trials, people seeking court protection from abusive partners and others pursuing regular civil complaints were among those arrested by federal agents.
In one Widespread case reported In 2017, ICE agents arrested a woman in El Paso, Texas, court after she directly obtained a protective order against an alleged abusive partner. A lawyer for a victim who accompanied her in a court appearance said that an ICE agent was inside the courtroom that issued protection orders, two others were guarding each exit door, and other agents were riding on the tenth floor of the court building.
The directive applies to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and US Customs and Border Protection, both of which fall under the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Department of Homeland Security, arrests would only be permitted in or near the courts if it was “(1) related to a matter of national security, (2) there was an imminent risk of death, violence, or bodily harm to a person, (3) it related to the vigorous stalking of an individual Pose a threat to public safety, or (4) There is an imminent risk of destroying physical evidence in a criminal case.
The Biden administration is reorienting how the government enforces immigration violations. Like the Trump administration, it focuses on those who pose a threat to public safety, but in a major change it has largely halted the indiscriminate arrests of anyone in the country illegally.
The policy change came the day President Biden appointed a critic of Trump’s immigration policy to the position of ICE Director: Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. As mayor of Harris County, which includes Houston, Gonzales ended a program with ICE that trained deputy sheriffs to screen detainees for their immigration status.