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Biden administration to halt deportations for 100 days for some undocumented immigrants

Rebecca Morin
 
| USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration has put a pause on deportation for some undocumented immigrants, according to a memo from his acting Homeland Security Secretary. 

Hours after Biden was inaugurated, acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske issued a memo calling for deportations to be halted for 100 days, immediately or by Friday at the the latest, as policies and practices regarding immigration enforcement are being reviewed. 

“The United States faces significant operational challenges at the southwest border as it is confronting the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” Pekoske wrote in the memo. “In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security.” 

Deportation is only paused for some, however. According to the memo, those who engage in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage, were not physically present in the U.S. by Nov. 1, 2020, or have voluntarily waived any rights to remain in the U.S. provided they were made fully aware of the consequences of the waiver, are subject to deportation. 

Biden in his first day in office reversed several of former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, such as stopping construction on the border wall and reversing the travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries. The Biden administration has also unveiled an immigration reform proposal, which they are working to introduce to Congress in coming weeks. 

More: Biden immigration proposal looks to roll back four years of Trump’s hardline policies

Trump was criticized for several of his immigration policies, particularly the “zero-tolerance” policy that separated children from their parents families at the border. More than 600 children are still separated from parents as of December. 

Pekoske also called on his chief of staff to review the department’s immigration policies over the next 100 days and offer recommendations to revise some of those policies. 

In addition, Pekoske laid out the top priorities of DHS: “protecting national security, border security, and public safety.” 

“Due to limited resources, DHS cannot respond to all immigration violations or remove all persons unlawfully in the United States,” Pekoske writes in the memo. “Rather, DHS must implement civil immigration enforcement based on sensible priorities and changing circumstances.” 

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