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HomePoliticsU.S. ends immigration arrests at schools, hospitals and other 'protected areas'

U.S. ends immigration arrests at schools, hospitals and other ‘protected areas’

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers carry out a raid as part of Operation Cross Check in Sherman, Texas, on June 20, 2019.Charles Reed | U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement | ReutersU.S. immigration authorities will be restricted from carrying out arrests and other enforcement actions at hospitals, schools and a range of other “protected” areas under a new policy issued Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security. The policy goes into effect immediately and applies to both Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agents, who will all receive updated training. They will be prohibited from making arrests, conducting searches and serving subpoenas at areas where immigrants “receive or engage in the essential services or activities,” according to a memo about the policy. The list of “protected areas” include schools and university campuses, hospitals and other medical facilities, Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites, places of worship and sites where children gather, such as playgrounds and day care centers, the memo said. Other areas include shelters for homeless people and victims of domestic violence, drug and alcohol treatment facilities and food pantries. Immigration enforcement is also restricted at or nearby funerals, demonstrations and parades, according to the memo. Arrests in these areas will be allowed in certain circumstances, such as the existence of a national security threat. Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Wednesday that immigration authorities must “consider the impact” of where enforcement actions might take place and their effect on people’s “broader societal interests.””We can accomplish our law enforcement mission without denying individuals access to needed medical care, children access to their schools, the displaced access to food and shelter, people of faith access to their places of worship, and more,” Mayorkas said.  “Adherence to this principle is a bedrock of our stature as public servants.” The new policy is the latest move by the Biden administration to narrow the enforcement power of U.S. immigration authorities. Earlier this month, for example, the administration ordered immigration authorities to stop conducting mass worksite arrests. And last month, immigration authorities were directed to no longer deport people solely because they are undocumented. Wednesday’s policy is also part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to rollback the hardline immigration policies of former President Donald Trump. While the Obama administration issued a similar policy that barred enforcement actions in certain areas, the Trump administration largely ignored it. Roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S., according to the memo. While President Joe Biden has vowed to fight for a path to citizenship, efforts to offer them a legalization process have faced numerous roadblocks in Congress this year.

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