Mar 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

ICE pauses most immigration enforcement amid coronavirus outbreak

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Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday that it will immediately "delay" the bulk of its deportation efforts amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and instead focus on undocumented persons who have committed criminal acts or who threaten public safety.

Why it matters: The announcement aims to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to encourage anyone who needs testing or treatment to pursue medical assistance.

What they're saying: "[D]uring the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances," per an ICE statement.

  • The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, will for now "focus on people who are subject to mandatory detention because of their criminal convictions."
  • ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations "will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate."
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