The Department of Homeland Security issued broad new directives to immigration officers that will go into effect on November 29, 2021. Although these new enforcement and deportation guidelines clarify that not everyone who is an undocumented immigrant should, or can, be removed from the United States, the memo gives worryingly broad discretion to individual ICE and CBP agents to carry out the enforcement priorities and risks the removal of survivors of gender-based violence.
“We welcome DHS’s recognition in its new set of enforcement priorities that survivors of gender-based violence and other people should not be removed from the United States to face violence elsewhere simply because they are undocumented,” said Richard Caldarone, Litigation Counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center. “We call on DHS to extend this understanding to all survivors, no matter when they first arrived in the United States, and to provide robust oversight of individual agents so that survivors can live in safety while accessing lifesaving protections to which they are legally entitled. We will continue to hold the administration accountable to ensure that immigrant survivors of violence are protected.”
The memo also unfairly categorizes anyone who entered without inspection after November 1, 2020, as a threat to border security. Given that official ports of entry remain closed to immigrant survivors of violence and other people seeking safety, entry without inspection is the only way they can exercise their legal right to apply for asylum or other protection.
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