AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

DHS Secretary Strengthens Protections from Enforcement Actions for Sensitive Locations

10/27/21 AILA Doc. No. 21102781. Removal & Relief

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the new memo from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas which aims to preclude officers from enforcement activities which would undermine safety and security at sensitive locations.

AILA President Allen Orr noted, “AILA is pleased that DHS is reaffirming that people should not live in fear of enforcement actions as they access health care, schools, places of worship, and other important institutions. It is important that children feel safe at school, that families can worship together, and that individuals needing support can seek services without a looming threat over their heads. However, this guidance will need to be emphasized and reemphasized with officers on the ground if we are going to see it implemented in our communities. Without accountability, ICE and other DHS agents will have the leeway to continue as they have under the previous administration. That would be disastrous and unacceptable.”

AILA Senior Director of Government Relations Greg Chen added, "This guidance is an important step that will help allay fears. However, AILA remains concerned that courthouses may not be as fully protected as other sensitive locations. Everyday thousands of people to go to U.S. courts for family law, child welfare, and other civil and criminal matters. Truly, we all benefit when residents know they can safely visit courthouses and will not be at risk of immigration enforcement, but DHS has given courthouses less protection under this policy. From a broader perspective, it will be up to the leadership at DHS to ensure the agency’s rank and file follow this important guidance."