NILC Statement on the Biden Administration’s New Enforcement Priorities

September 30, 2021

Madison Allman, [email protected], 202-384-1279

NILC Statement on the Biden Administration’s New Enforcement Priorities

WASHINGTON — Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the new enforcement priorities memo issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

“The Biden administration’s new immigration enforcement memo gives discretion to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in an effort to rein in a system that has long been weaponized — and was supercharged under the previous administration — to indiscriminately detain and deport immigrants and separate them from their loved ones. The memo includes some meaningful improvements, including new protections from retaliation for tenants as well as for workers asserting their rights, which is an important first step in ensuring that all workers can do their jobs safely and exercise their legal rights without fearing employer intimidation, arrest, or deportation.

“However, the memo places a dangerous amount of discretion in the hands of ICE agents. Given the agency’s long history of operating — and even rewarding — a culture of cruelty and impunity, it is crucial for the agency to commit to ensuring that these priorities are implemented fairly and justly, and that DHS leadership ensures ICE agents are held accountable. The memo also categorically targets many vulnerable immigrants and asylum-seekers based solely on when they arrived in the U.S.

“While we commend DHS for taking these important steps toward restoring fairness and accountability, we will hold these agencies accountable to enact meaningful and positive change that ensures the new priorities are implemented in a fair and humane way and that people are not unjustly detained or deported. We urge the administration to deliver on President Biden’s promise to build a 21st century immigration system that centers the dignity of everyone.”