President Donald Trump may be announcing a partial shut down of the U.S. Mexico border over the coronavirus pandemic, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is also shutting a door – on enforcement.
According to reports, ICE is suspending much of its interior enforcement efforts thanks to the outbreak, saying they’ll concentrate only on deporting illegal aliens convicted of crimes or who pose a threat to public safety. The agency said in a memo this week that it will “delay enforcement actions” and use “alternatives to detention” during the outbreak to “promote lifesaving and public safety activities.”
"For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, [ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations] will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate," ICE said.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,” the notification added. “Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”
The agency also said it has suspended family visits to detention centers to keep the virus from spreading, as well as canceled deportation flights to China, Italy and South Korea.