ICE reported that they will continue their arrests while taking the necessary precautions to slow down the spread of COVID-19, but would limit the arrests to individuals with criminal convictions. ICE issued a statement saying they “will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations) will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.” Some of the offenses Homeland Security will target include child exploitation, gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, and human smuggling. David Marin, the director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICE in Los Angeles, issued a statement saying “We’re out here trying to protect the public by getting these criminal aliens off the street and out of our communities […] asking us to stop doing that basically gives those criminals another opportunity to maybe commit more crimes, to create more victims.” ICE is claiming they will not conduct enforcement operations at health care facilities, only under “extraordinary circumstances.” This should not discourage individuals from seeking medical care, according to Leticia Zamarripa, a spokesperson for ICE. Other facilities where operations will not be carried out include hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities.
Apparently, the announcement by Matt Albence, the Acting Director of ICE, that he would halt most immigration enforcement efforts during the pandemic has upset some officials in the Trump administration. Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli expressed his dissatisfaction with Albence for adopting a similar approach to the Obama administration. One senior White House official described Alvence as “a devoted and skilled career law enforcement professional” while another official stated he is “on thin ice…” Since the announcement, the parallels of the “criminal grounds of removal” and the Obama administration’s immigration policy caused Alvence to clarify what he meant by the policy change. He stated on Twitter that this new policy will “prioritize arresting and removing criminal aliens and other aliens who pose a threat to public safety” but it “does not mean that no other removable aliens will in fact be removed…”