Saturday, November 20, 2021

Recent DHS Memos - an Interview

CLASP recently shared news about recent DHS and ICE interior enforcement policy announcements

In an important new memo, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) upended a hallmark of the Trump and Bush administrations’ enforcement strategies. The new DHS memo also attempts to rebalance the focus of enforcement on employers who hold the power and abuse it in the workplace, rather than workers, prioritizing efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

As with any immigration policy, the true test of these words on paper will take place in communities. And with ICE agents and field office directors largely held over from the Trump era, the Biden administration is going to have to work very hard to ensure its priorities are realized. While there has been progress, other administration decisions such as the recent announcement to restart the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols program (also known as “Remain in Mexico”) continue to put children in harm’s way. 

          ==> Read more:

On September 30, 2021, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro N. Mayorkas, issued a memo outlining the agency’s new immigration enforcement guidelines. After years of harmful immigration enforcement—including harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and ramped up enforcement actions under the Trump Administration—families across the country have been torn apart or left in a constant state of fear. In response, advocates and community leaders have been calling for a drastic shift in how the government approaches immigration enforcement. While the new memo brings a welcome change in tone and makes some progress, it falls short of reigning in enforcement agents who have too often abused their authority and fails to fully protect youth, parents, and other caregivers at risk of deportation.

          ==> Read more:

I had a chance to interview Wendy Cervantes, CLASP's director of immigration and immigrant families to learn more. She also wrote a blog post with additional analysis.

What are some of the positives about the recent memo regarding immigration enforcement?


With this memo, the Biden administration is recognizing that deciding to deport someone is a huge decision, and just because the law says they may be deported does not mean they must be deported. 


The guidance provides a list of factors that ICE agents are supposed to consider before carrying out a deportation, and that includes the impact on children and families. Age is also supposed to be considered, such as whether the person is of “advanced or tender age” and therefore deportation would be highly dangerous.


Why is it not enough?


The government should take a more proactive stance on the deportation of parents, stating that the default position is to keep families together. From pediatricians, other child development experts, and our own research on the impact of detention and deportation, we know that removing a positive adult influence and caregiver from a child’s home has long-term financial, social, mental, educational, and developmental impacts on our future leaders. Deportation should be a last resort for immigrant parents, and the guidance does not go nearly far enough to make that a reality.


How can people support immigrants and their families who may be at risk of deportation?


There are many organizations around the country who work with immigrants and refugees. Your community most likely has at least one, and some take volunteers.  You could find them by searching the name of your city or region and “immigrants.”


We are also asking people to contact Congress and let them know you support creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who contribute to our country every day. Fill out this form to send your senators, President BIden, and Vice President Harris a quick email. Then, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 or find your House representatives here. Call their office and deliver the same message that you just sent in your email!


Some people may think this is an issue that doesn't affect them, or that if someone is at risk of deportation that they may deserve it for some reason - why is it important for people to understand how immigration policies affect everyone?


If we’ve learned anything from COVID, it’s that we are all in this together. And if we’ve learned anything from climate change, it’s that our actions have consequences, even if we can’t immediately see them. 


We can’t be a healthy, open, and safe society for all if we are only concerned about ourselves. Instead of deporting loving parents, we should be calling on Congress to create a path to citizenship so they and their children no longer have to worry about the nightmare of being separated.


One in four children in the United States have a parent who is an immigrant, and their ability to thrive is critical to our nation’s future. You don’t have to be an immigrant or a parent to understand that we all have a stake in making sure our laws support the success of every child. 

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