In response to COVID-19, our office is still operating and we encourage those who want to set up a consultation with us to do so and you will have the option via phone or skype. Visit our Coronavirus Resource page for up-to-date info on COVID-19 and immigration.

Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law: Updated DHS Guidance

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas recently issued new Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law. The purpose of these Guidelines is to better focus the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on apprehending and removing those noncitizens who are threats to public safety, national security, and border security. These Guidelines replace the interim guidelines put into place by DHS officials in February 2021. The new Guidelines become effective on November 29, 2021.

New Guidelines Call for Officer Discretion

Under these Guidelines, DHS officials will engage in a case-by-case determination as to whether an individual truly poses a threat on one of these grounds, rather than a more categorical approach that has been used in the past. DHS confirmed that it does not wish to use its limited resources to focus on noncitizens who are not a threat and, in fact, contribute positively to the U.S.

The Guidelines largely leave the discretion whether to pursue enforcement action up to the personnel who carry out immigration enforcement actions or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. All officers and related personnel will undergo training, personnel, and case review processes before the new Guidelines go into effect.

Priority Areas of Apprehension and Removal

DHS estimates that more than 11 million immigrants without legal documentation reside in the U.S. The new Guidelines prioritize three areas of civil immigration enforcement, as follows:

  • Threats to National Security – include noncitizens involved in terrorism, espionage, and terrorist-related activities, as well as other forms of threats to national security
  • Threats to Public Safety – include noncitizens who have committed serious criminal acts
  • Threats to Border Security – include noncitizens apprehended at the border or a port of entry or airport while attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully or who were apprehended in the U.S. after unlawfully entering the U.S. after November 1, 2020

Basis of Civil Immigration Enforcement Actions

The new Guidelines clarify that the mere fact that a noncitizen may be removable under American immigration laws will not be the sole basis for an enforcement action against them. Likewise, the Guidelines caution against any immigration enforcement actions based on race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, national origin, or political associations. Finally, the Guidelines also warn against pursuing vulnerable immigrants whose employers or landlords have sought to turn them over to ICE solely as a means of punishment or retaliation.

We Are Here to Help You with All Your Immigration Law Needs

The focus of the new Guidelines on prosecutorial discretion may open up more opportunities to allow noncitizens to avoid apprehension and removal under certain circumstances. We are happy to discuss your unique situation and determine whether these new Guidelines may be helpful in your immigration case.

The attorneys and staff of Bashyam Global focus on providing legal assistance to individuals and businesses with immigration matters. As immigration law’s landscape continues to evolve rapidly, we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with regulation and policy changes as they occur. Together, we can work toward getting the legal relief that you are seeking. Contact our offices today at (919) 833-0840 and schedule an appointment to speak with us about your case.