BY ISN STAFF | January 22, 2021

On his first day in office, Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden took action to pause deportations for 100 days beginning on January 22. The pause is a part of a memo signed by the president entitled “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities,” which was then sent to the Department of Homeland security. The memo was one in a flurry of executive orders and memos signed by the new president as one of his first acts of governing. 

moratorium on deportations, catholic leaders respond

The memo does include exceptions, which has created priorities for deportation, a similar concept to one employed by the Obama Administration. These same priorities are the guidelines for enforcement and who will be prioritized for enforcement operations after January 22.

Only those who fall under these priorities will be subject to deportation—those engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage or who post a danger to national security, were not physical present in the U.S. prior to November 1, 2020, who have voluntarily waived their right to remain in the U.S. after meaningful access to counsel, or whom the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director has determined must be removed as required by law after consultation with general counsel. 

“Wednesday’s actions by the new Administration are important first steps toward ensuring that immigration enforcement in our country is balanced and humane,” said Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “We pledge to work with the new Administration as it reviews enforcement policies that preserve our national sovereignty and, at the same time, recognize the inherent human dignity of every person, regardless of immigration status.”

“These last four years, immigrant families have lived in fear of ICE. Children, including myself, have grown up hearing that one day they could be ripped apart from their parents by ‘la migra’—immigration enforcement officers. The Trump Administration took the Obama Administration’s deportation machine and put it on steroids for the last four years. President Biden has put the deportation machine on pause, and hopefully permanently, so the dignity of all people can be upheld,” said José Arnulfo Cabrera, director of education and advocacy for migration at the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “After years of undocumented immigrant communities living under attacks from ICE, raiding homes, workplaces, and separating families this memo provides peace of mind.”

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