By Julia Brown
Biden administration prohibits ICE from arresting immigrants in courthouses
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a new policy prohibiting agents from arresting immigrants at courthouses in most cases. This is a stark contrast to Trump-era guidance that justified these courthouse arrests as necessary in localities that did not hold people on immigration detainers. This policy worsened relationships between immigrants and law enforcement and created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety for immigrants regardless of status.
As explanation for changing the courthouse policy, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas stated: “Ensuring that individuals have access to the courts advances the fair administration of justice, promotes safety for crime victims, and helps to guarantee equal protection under the law.”
We hope this policy is just the first step of many toward decriminalizing immigration.
Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days
We recently marked 100 days since President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office. At the time of their inauguration, ILAP released a list of Immigration Policy Priorities for the administration’s first 100 days. This was a dynamic list stemming from ILAP’s expertise in immigration law and demands from immigrant leaders and immigrant-led groups across the state.
We were pleased to see immediate action by the Biden administration, including ending the Trump-era public charge wealth test and introducing the U.S. Citizenship Act. However, there is still urgent action needed to reverse anti-asylum policies and decriminalize immigration.
Right now is the time to reimagine our immigration system. The Biden administration can end detention, welcome refugees and asylum seekers, and create pathways to citizenship for everyone in this country.
Visit https://www.ilapmaine.org/policy-priorities-2021 to learn more.
Call to action: contact Maine’s senators to support a pathway to citizenship!
As we explained last month, the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the House of Representatives in March with bipartisan support. The Dream and Promise Act would establish a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would create a pathway to permanent residence for farmworkers and would change the existing H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program. While DACA, TPS, and DED recipients and farmworkers need relief right now, the current bills have many bars for immigrants who have had contact with our racially biased criminal legal system. This disproportionately harms immigrants of color. We need pathways to citizenship without these damaging criminal bars.
This legislation still has not reached the Senate floor. For these bills to become law, they must pass in the Senate. Keep calling our senators and urge them to vote for an inclusive Dream and Promise Act and Farm Workforce Modernization Act without criminal bars to status, as well as to support pathways to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Senator Susan Collins: (202) 224-2523
Senator Angus King: (202) 224-5344
The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) is Maine’s only statewide immigration legal services organization. Check out our website for more information: www.ilapmaine.org
Julia Brown is ILAP’s Advocacy and Outreach Director. She works to improve laws and policies impacting Maine’s immigrant communities and coordinates communications and outreach on immigration laws and legal rights.