U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing to issue new guidelines to agents this week that could sharply curb arrests and deportations, as the Biden administration attempts to assert more control over an agency afforded wide latitude under President Donald Trump, according to internal memos and emails obtained by The Washington Post.
While ICE’s new operational plans are not yet final, interim instructions sent to senior officials point to a major shift in enforcement. “Generally, these convictions would not include drug based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions,” acting director Tae Johnson told senior officials in a Thursday email advising them on how to operate while new guidelines are finalized.
The Biden administration is attempting to reorient ICE, a law enforcement agency that has seen its priorities swing wildly from one administration to the next. But frustrated ICE officials say the proposed changes will take away agents’ discretion and severely constrain their ability to arrest and deport criminals.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Jen Psaki how it is in the interest of public safety to no longer deport illegal aliens convicted of DUI and assault.
Psaki was clearly ill-prepared and stuttered through her non-answer.
Jen Psaki just confirmed that illegal aliens who are convicted of DUI and drug-related crimes will NOT be deported. pic.twitter.com/ylPByMVKgE
— Caleb Hull (I’m With the CCP Don’t Ban Me) (@CalebJHull) February 8, 2021
A draft memo said agents will be on a short leash, and that any arrests outside of jails and prisons require the approval of ICE’s director.
Agents who want to make an arrest reportedly must explain why it “constitutes an appropriate allocation of limited resources.”
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas said Sunday that the new administration needs to find the right balance, according to Fox News.
“There are policies that we had under President Obama that I think we need to look at and implement,” he said. “And in fact … President Obama actually deported more people than President Trump did.”
“I support ICE,” he added. “I support the men and women that that are there. We just got to find that right policy.”