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DHS limits immigration arrests in or near courthouses

DHS limits immigration arrests in or near courthouses
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed immigration agents to only conduct arrests at or near courthouses if there is a national security threat, risk of imminent death and destruction of evidence or a threat to the public. Pool Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

April 27 (UPI) -- Agents with the Department of Homeland Security will limit immigration arrests in or near courthouses, undoing a controversial President Donald Trump-era policy, officials said Tuesday.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed agents with Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to minimize arrests at the facility to protect people's ability to attend court dates without fear of being detained, the department said in a statement.

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The interim guidance, which will be released soon, limits arrests in or near courthouses to matters of national security, suspects who pose a threat to public safety and imminent risk of death, violence or physical harm as well as situations where there is a risk of the destruction of evidence in a case.

The guidance replaces a directive introduced in January 2018 that permitted immigration agents to conduct arrests within or near courthouses for broad reasons that Mayorkas said had "a chilling effect on individuals' willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement."

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"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," Mayorkas said. "Today's guidance is the latest step in our efforts to focus our civil immigration enforcement resources on threats to homeland security and public safety."

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The previous directive given under the administration of then-President Donald Trump was criticized by immigration advocacy groups for instilling fear in immigrant communities and undermining the right to equal protection under the law.

Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has replaced strict Trump-era immigration policies, including unwinding his so-called wait-in Mexico directive that made people wait on the other side of the U.S. border before attending their scheduled court dates, among others.

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