Immigration Law

ICE halts most immigration enforcement, more courts close amid COVID-19 pandemic

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement police are shown in this file photo. Image from

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is cutting back arrests as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICE will focus its enforcement efforts on foreign nationals who pose public safety risks and those subject to mandatory detention because of criminal records, the agency announced Wednesday.

For those who don’t fit in those categories, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the [COVID-19] crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate,” ICE said in the statement. The Washington Post and NPR have coverage.

The agency also said it will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities “except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

“Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement,” the ICE statement said.

The move comes after the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review announced it is closing an additional 10 immigration courts, CNN reports. The Seattle immigration court previously was closed.

The agency also said initial hearings for nondetained immigrants will be postponed.

The 10 new immigration courts that closed are in Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Newark, New York (on Broadway and the Federal Plaza) and Sacramento. The list is here.

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