Biden Administration Restricts Immigration Arrests at Courthouses



President Joe Biden has not wasted time weakening interior immigration enforcement. In January, his administration issued a memo that prohibited the arrests of most illegal aliens in the United States, even those convicted of heinous crimes. Now, a new directive from his administration has put immigration agents in another bind.

On April 27, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new order that would further limit the arrest powers of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at courthouses. Under the new guidance, conducting civil immigration enforcement near or at courtrooms is restrained, scrapping a policy that previously permitted ICE agents to do so.

According to the new policy, immigration agents can only make arrests at courthouses under the following circumstances:

  • If it pertains to national security.
  • If there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any individual.
  • If it involves a “hot pursuit” of an individual who poses a threat to public safety.
  • Or if there is an impending risk of the destruction of evidence connected to a criminal case.

This new scheme by the Biden administration is yet another attempt to shield immigration lawbreakers from deportation by placing limits on where and when they can be taken into custody. The president’s actions only decrease the likelihood of removing unlawful migrants.

Secretary Mayorkas explained the push behind limiting immigration arrests, saying, “The expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”

As FAIR has pointed out, there is no evidence that diminishing immigration enforcement or promoting other sanctuary policies encourages victims and witnesses to cooperate with law enforcement. This so-called “chilling effect,” or the claim that cooperation with immigration officials erodes trust and diminishes the frequency of crimes being reported by immigrants, has been debunked. In fact, crime reporting by immigrants in non-sanctuary jurisdictions did not decrease when their localities opted to work with ICE. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, DHS can offer an illegal alien relief from removal if they are a witness or victim of a crime.

This latest move by the administration adds more complication to the duties of ICE and CBP agents. By limiting immigration-related arrests in the secure confines of courthouses, agents will likely have to capture unlawful aliens in public streets or private residences where they could flee or even pose a threat to law enforcement officers and innocent bystanders. President Biden ought to rethink his decision to prioritize illegal aliens over Americans and lawful migrants.  

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