New US deportation policy for illegal immigrants


Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton released a new deportation policy Friday that focuses exclusively on those with serious criminal convictions.

One of the major changes in the guidance for agents is that it “restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes.”

“Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities,” said Morton, in a statement. “In order to further enhance our ability to focus enforcement efforts on serious offenders, we are changing who ICE will issue detainers against.”

The new policy directs agents and officers to issue detainers for deportation only for those unauthorized immigrants who have one or more of the following:

  • A prior felony conviction or has been charged with a felony offense
  • Three or more prior misdemeanor convictions (not including minor traffic misdemeanors or other relatively minor misdemeanors unless the convictions “reflect a clear and continuing danger to others or disregard for the law.”)
  • Has a prior misdemeanor conviction or has been charged with a misdemeanor offense that involves violence, threats, or assault; sexual abuse or exploitation; driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; unlawful flight from the scene of an accident; unlawful possession or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon; the distribution or trafficking of a controlled substance; or o other significant threat to public safety
  • A conviction for illegal entry into the United States
  • Entered the country illegally after being previously removed or returned
  • Has an outstanding order of removal
  • Has been found to have knowingly committed immigration fraud
  • Is considered a risk to national security, border security, or public safety (for example, suspected terrorist, known gang member, subject of an outstanding felony arrest warrant)

The policy covers all programs that involve ICE with unauthorized immigrants through Secure communities, any 287(g) agreements and other ICE enforcement operations. The policy does not apply to detainers used by Customs and Border Protection which includes the Border Patrol.

The change is the latest policy to be implemented in the last several years that narrow the deportation pool for immigration authorities. Those who oppose such policies and want to see increased enforcement call these efforts “expanded amnesty.”

Such policies include prosecutorial discretion, which allows immigration authorities to bypasses those who do not have criminal records and meet other requirements, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives some young unauthorized immigrants a 2-year reprieve from deportation if they meet certain requirements.

We will update with responses from ICE, local immigration advocates and pro-enforcement voices as we receive them.


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