The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has announced new standards for the enforcement of immigration law in the United States. These new standards will focus the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) so that it takes into account the totality of an immigrant’s circumstances when deciding whether to take an enforcement action against them. These new standards will go into effect on November 29, 2021.
How Were Immigration Cases Handled Until Now?
The primary emphasis in immigration has been to focus on cases related to national security, public safety, and border security. However, rather than take each case on its own, DHS handled cases on a categorical basis, with every case handled based on strict legal guidelines. This gave immigration enforcement authorities very little authority to grant leniency when it seemed appropriate, leading to unjust outcomes such as deportation or revocation of legal immigration status.
What Do the New Standards Say?
Under the new standards, instead of immigration enforcement being done on an inflexible categorical basis, enforcement officials have been told to take in the totality of an immigrant’s circumstances. This gives more prosecutorial discretion to enforcement authorities to grant leniency when it seems appropriate, while also allowing them to focus on prosecuting the most dangerous offenders. For many immigrants, this potentially comes as a relief, making it less likely they will be deported or face other immigration enforcement actions.
How Do the New Guidelines Protect Immigrant Rights?
The new guidelines explicitly protect the civil rights of immigrants, and explicitly state that issues related to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political associations, or exercise of First Amendment rights cannot be held against immigrants. The new guidelines also explicitly state that legal action cannot be taken to retaliate against immigrants who choose to exercise their legal rights. The announcement also stated that DHS will require new training, data collection, and a revised case review process to ensure officials respect the rights of immigrants.
Why Does This Matter For Immigrants?
For many immigrants, these new standards promise some potential relief from the threat of deportation. By focusing enforcement activities against those who pose the greatest threat to public safety and national security, it alleviates some of the risk that other immigrants face from immigration authorities. It may also encourage them to seek help from law enforcement when they are the victims of crimes, helping police to catch criminals who exploit immigrants within the United States.
For more than forty years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in immigration and nationality matters, as well as personal injury, family law, criminal law, and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to immigration law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page.