U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new rules Thursday requiring officers to make written requests for supervisors’ approval to deport “low priority” illegal immigrants, including drunken drivers, certain domestic assault offenders, identity theft convicts and other felons whose crimes aren’t “aggravated”
Homeland Security officials did not say the number of deportations they anticipate will be canceled as a result of the new rules. Each case will be judged based on outside factors like family ties, officials said.
“It’s just a question of us reallocating resources to cases that truly matter,” a Homeland Security official told reporters, according to The Washington Times.
High-level felons, national security risks and new border jumpers are still considered high priority and would not require pre-approval for enforcement. Additionally, ICE officers will be required to alert communities before trying to make “at-large” arrests, the new rules stated.
A list of arrests will be given to the ICE director and homeland security secretary each week to ensure the new rules are being followed.
The rules replace President Joe Biden’s order on deportations issued on his first day in office, which led to several difficult situations. In one case, officers in Texas were ready to arrest convicted sex offenders involving juveniles, but the process was almost canceled by supervisors before Texas officials stepped in.
The agency also delayed a mission seeking to arrest illegal immigrant sex offenders in Texas.
ICE’s new rules also limit “collateral” arrests: if an agent pursues a target and encounters other illegal immigrants in the process, the others will be left alone unless they meet the required priority guidelines.
“The approval to carry out an enforcement action against a particular noncitizen will not authorize enforcement actions against other noncitizens encountered during an operation if those noncitizens fall outside the presumption criteria,” Tae Johnson, acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement, wrote in the rules.
The new guidance allows officers to “presume” cases meet priority standards if they are national security risks, aggravated felons and criminally active gang members or new illegal immigrants who arrived after October 31. Low priority illegal immigrants could still be deported if a supervisor gives approval.
Officials said illegal immigrants who have older criminal records, health problems, have become part of a community or have started a family in the U.S. will receive preferential treatment.
Last year, ICE deported roughly 185,000 migrants, but the record for deportations occurred in 2012 under former President Barack Obama, with almost 420,000.