Noncitizenship ‘should not alone be the basis’ for deportation: is DHS's Mayorkas right?

Kevin Lamarque / AP

Fact Box

  • On September 30, 2021, Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced in a memo new guidelines for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers were to follow, stating, “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.”
  • Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2003. Though ICE and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are both overseen by the DHS, CBP enforces customs inspections at the border and runs the US Border Patrol, while ICE enforces US immigration law inside the country’s interior. 
  • US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached a 21-year-record high of 213,534 in July 2021. August has seen a slight drop of 208,887 migrant encounters. 
  • A March 2021 Rasmussen Poll reveals 73% of American respondents were “concerned about the government’s ability to handle the growing number of migrants at the border while meeting COVID-19 protocols.” Likewise, 51% of voters oppose amnesty. 
  • A 2019 Pew poll showed 68% Americans said increased security along the US-Mexico border was “very or somewhat important” while 73% said it’s important to accept refugees. For deporting unauthorized immigrants, 54% consider it important while 45% said it’s not as important in the list of immigration priorities.

Curtice (No)

If the goal of the Biden administration is to encourage more immigrants to enter the country illegally, it may have sealed the deal this week. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released new immigration enforcement guidelines he claims are 'in the pursuit of public safety.' The new guidelines make clear that being in the country illegally is not enough to get deported. Rather, 'mitigating factors' must be considered. If public safety is the goal, turning a blind eye to those whose first act upon entering the country is to break the law is hardly the way to do it. In fact, their first act itself is a violation of the law.

The Biden administration has gone out of its way to create a crisis at the southern border. Yet, they seem intent on making it even worse. Not only do these new guidelines do nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, it actually encourages more. Since Joe Biden took office, illegal immigrants have come into the country in numbers that haven't been seen in decades. Even Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei blamed Biden and the Democrats for what he called their 'lukewarm' illegal immigration rhetoric. And that was before these new guidelines were issued.

When illegal activity is not only not condemned but condoned or even encouraged, it is hardly surprising that you get more of it. The message from the Biden administration to anyone considering entering the United States illegally is clear—come on in, stay awhile. Or stay forever—and we care little about what you do when you get here. 

Morgan (Yes)

Not being a citizen doesn't mean that the individual is a threat to the US, and rather than trying to remove every undocumented individual, the DHS should focus on removing people who are threats to the United States. Those are the people we don't want in our country, but we do want hardworking people dedicated to becoming good United States citizens. As the country that values freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness for all, it's the United States' duty to provide that opportunity whenever possible to those seeking it. 

The citizenship application process in the United States is long—14.5 months on average—and for some people, who are fleeing from dangerous situations and unhappy lives, it may be unsafe for them to remain in their own country while waiting. If they are good people simply looking for a fresh start and aren't dangerous individuals, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, then they should be allowed to wait in our country where they will be safe from potential harm. 

While the ethics of the situation may be questionable, there is no doubt the United States benefits greatly from having noncitizens in our country who can perform labor and have to accept far less pay than what US citizens are legally paid. Many industries would likely suffer if all noncitizens were deported, including the harder and more physically demanding jobs most US citizens don't want.

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