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Biden Order Revises Immigration Enforcement Priorities Involving Detention and Deportation

21 Jan

On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities, revoking the Trump era Executive Order 13768 – Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which significantly expanded the federal government’s priorities on who might be targets for removal (deportation) from the United States.  

President Trump’s Executive Order 13768 also empowered state and local enforcement agencies to act as immigration officers and to hand over suspected immigration violators. The Order extended the government’s removal priority list to include those convicted of any crime, not just violent felons. Even those not yet convicted became a potential target for removal. 

The result of Trump’s Order was that any foreign national, rather than just those who might have committed a crime or an immigration violation, was at risk of being removed from the United States. Further, individuals who had been in the United States for less than two years could be expeditiously removed without a hearing, and those entitled to a hearing could be detained regardless of the offense.  

President Biden’s new Order outlines the president’s rationale for revising the previous policies:  

Immigrants have helped strengthen America’s families, communities, businesses and workforce, and economy, infusing the United States with creativity, energy, and ingenuity. The task of enforcing the immigration laws is complex and requires setting priorities to best serve the national interest. The policy of my Administration is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety. We must also adhere to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities. My Administration will reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities.  

President Biden’s new Order directs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and the heads of any other relevant executive departments and agencies to review any agency actions developed pursuant to Executive Order 13768 Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States and take action to issue revised guidance that implements the Biden administration policy set forth above.  

Foster will continue to monitor developments in connection with the new administration’s changes in immigration enforcement priorities and will make future updates available on our firm’s website at