Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Under new policy, ICE will not arrest or deport undocumented victims of crime

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will avoid arresting or deporting undocumented people who are victims of crimes except in exceptional circumstances.

The agency’s new policy is the latest effort by the Biden administration to pivot from the Trump administration and tailor enforcement priorities. Moving forward, ICE will require agents and officers to help undocumented victims to seek justice and facilitate access to immigration be benefits.

According to the directive signed by ICE acting Director Tae Johnson, during their duties, ICE officers and agents must also look for evidence that suggests an undocumented immigrant is a victim of a crime. Past policy gave more discretion to individual agents and officers, whereas this policy directs agency personnel to broadly and proactively support undocumented immigrants who are potential victims of crime.

“A victim-centered approach encourages victim cooperation with law enforcement, engenders trust in ICE agents and officers, and bolsters faith in the entire criminal justice and civil immigration systems,” says the directive. According to an ICE official, the new policy gives weight to a potential victim by ensuring that undocumented people have the right access to victims’ services that are available to them.

Johnson said in a statement, “Through this approach, we minimize the fear of repercussions that enforcement decisions may have on the willingness and ability of noncitizen crime victims to contact law enforcement, participate in investigations and prosecutions, pursue justice, and seek benefits.” In June, ICE terminated the Trump-era office that focused on victims of crimes perpetrated by undocumented immigrants. ICE replaced it with a new program to provide victim support regardless of immigration status of the victim or perpetrator. The new hotline provides callers with multiple options such as the ability to report abuse in ICE detention, along with a long-standing system for push notification about custody status and case outcome.