The Washington Post accessed memos which reveal new immigration guidelines that could curb arrests and deportations but Biden is not dismantling ICE.
On February 7, WaPo published an article stating that according to some internal memos and emails obtained by the organization, ICE is preparing to issue new guidelines to agents this week that could sharply curb arrests and deportations. Although nothing is final yet, WaPo further said that according to the memos, immigrants would not be deported by ICE for crimes such as driving under the influence and assault and will focus instead on national security threats, recent border crossers, and people completing prison and jail terms for aggravated felony convictions.
“Generally, these convictions would not include drug based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions,” acting director Tae Johnson told senior officials in an email advising them on how to operate while new guidelines are finalized, reported WaPo. The draft guidelines have to be approved by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorka.
WaPo quoted one ICE official saying, “They’ve abolished ICE without abolishing ICE”. It also reported that some ICE agents feel that "the proposed changes will take away agents’ discretion and severely constrain their ability to arrest and deport criminals". Although, some ICE officials also said that under the Trump administration, which used ICE widely, most of the people taken into custody were criminal offenders, and most of them had convictions or pending charges for driving under the influence, traffic offenses and immigration violations, such as illegally reentering the country.
While Biden is reforming ICE, he is not eliminating them. Biden officials clarified that they are not abandoning ICE and will prioritize national security and public safety threats. However, they want to reduce the vast number of deportations by not sending those who do not meet their more selective criteria. And they emphasized that the interim guidance clarifies that anyone in the United States illegally still could be subject to deportation if an ICE officer makes a case for removing them.
Biden is keeping his campaign promise by making these changes. On the campaign trail, Biden expressed regret for the high number of deportations that occurred under President Barack Obama, and he pledged to rein in and reform ICE, but not eliminate it.