LOS ANGELES -- The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the largest immigrant rights organization in California, sees new hope for increased discretion and more humane treatment of immigrants in the guidelines for enforcement released on Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS released its long-expected memo providing guidelines to all field offices on enforcement, and it signifies a return to the idea of prosecutorial discretion. An individualized assessment should allow agents to take into account all the circumstances in an undocumented immigrant's life in considering whether to deport them. The document recognizes that the large majority of undocumented immigrants who could be deported are longtime members of communities, to which they contribute daily.
Significantly, the memo notes that the fact that immigrants may be deportable should not be the sole basis of removing them, and pledges to use discretion "in a more targeted way."
Please attribute the following statements to Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director:
"We are still reviewing Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' memo, but we welcome these protocols, given the brutal attitude adopted by the previous administration, in which no mitigating circumstance was enough to allow undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.
"This document recognizes the damage deportations do to families and re-prioritizes the use of prosecutorial discretion, to allow a reprieve to immigrants who have long contributed to their communities. Mitigating factors that can now be considered include a person's age, length of presence in the country, and whether they are a caregiver or provider for their families, among other things. This is recognition of immigrants' humanity and complexity. For our community, this guideline should mean far less detention and fewer deportations, effective immediately.
We worry that these guidelines still emphasize deportations rather than family unity. Especially regarding asylum seekers and refugees, the status quo cannot continue. The system must do more to ease the pain it imposes on people seeking solace in this country."
Please attribute the following statement to Esperanza Guevara, deputy director of policy and advocacy at CHIRLA:
"We are encouraged by the new outlook offered by the enforcement memo. And yet, we cannot lose sight of the fact that any deportation is one too many. We know the detention and deportation machinery still relies on a racist criminal justice system. We need a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who have made this country their home. This is the year, and we expect Congress to deliver that long-awaited permanent solution, which is the aim of our YES Immigrants Forward