The Pause on Deportations Is the First Step Toward a Workable Immigration System

Updated: Feb 5

Washington, D.C.— A new column released today by the Center for American Progress highlights that the 100-day moratorium on deportations will allow the Biden administration to take the time it needs to truly align immigration enforcement with American values. At the same time, to begin moving the nation toward a more fair and just system, it is imperative to overturn the efforts of those opposing this positive change and work to uncover the depths of lawlessness of the Trump administration’s immigration regime.

The Biden administration took action on day one with a memorandum from acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary David Pekoske announcing a top-to-bottom review of the agency’s immigration policies and implementing a 100-day moratorium on deportations.

Any individual with a final deportation order—with certain exceptions, including national security risks and recent arrivals—will not be removed from the United States during the moratorium period.

However, just days after the moratorium went into effect, the state of Texas won a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order blocking the 100-day pause while litigation continues. As the column lays out, the arguments made by the judge in the case are lacking, and the moratorium should be allowed to go into effect immediately.

One aspect of the DHS memo that was not challenged by Texas—and as such, remains in effect—is a new set of enforcement guidelines identifying three priority categories: people deemed to pose a serious threat to national security; people who entered the United States on or after November 1, 2020; and people deemed to pose a serious threat to public safety. The memo underscores that for individuals who are not a priority for immigration enforcement, DHS officials should exercise discretion on whether or not to bring an enforcement action in the first place, detain someone, or grant a form of relief such as deferred action.

“The Biden administration has taken the right steps toward a fairer and more humane immigration system through the day one executive actions. Given the deficiencies with yesterday’s ruling, the courts must allow the moratorium to proceed immediately,” said Philip E. Wolgin, managing director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress and author of this column. “It is also important to focus on what comes after the first 100 days, when the federal government must pursue a range of reforms from making detention the exception rather than the norm to expanding affirmative relief for people who are not priorities for enforcement. Congress also has a critical role to play in providing permanent protections to undocumented immigrants, such as Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and essential workers.”

Related resources:

  • “Restoring the Rule of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System” by Tom Jawetz

  • “How Executive Action Can Build a More Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System” by Tom Jawetz

  • “A New Paradigm for Humane and Effective Immigration Enforcement” by Peter L. Markowitz

  • “Resources on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” by CAP’s Immigration team

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