Arrests and deportations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plummeted sharply in fiscal 2021 in Arizona and across the United States as immigration officials began following Biden administration directives to focus on detaining immigrants with serious criminal histories. The practice represents a marked departure from the previous policy of rounding up immigrants, often holding them for weeks in detention facilities.
Focus on “quality” arrests
Immigration arrests fell 28% from 2020, with only 59,011 deportations occurring in 2021. The Biden-era directives reflect an effort to reshape the agency’s work by narrowing the immigration groups subject to quick deportation. The current rules call for ICE officers to continue to detain those with serious criminal records, who pose a risk to national security or have recently entered the United States illegally.
Under the Biden administration rules, ICE officers have generally refrained from deporting immigrants who have lived in the United States peacefully for years. Immigrants in other situations, including those who have suffered violent crimes, pregnant and nursing women, and long-term detention of migrant families with children, are also generally free from deportation. ICE has also discontinued workplace sweeps to round up illegal immigrants.
Remaining legally in the United States
If you or any members of your family are undocumented immigrants, you have a variety of paths to attempt to obtain legal status. Various visas are available, including those for family members, work, nonimmigrant, and humanitarian designations, all of which can help buy time to get your green card. Learning about the naturalization process can also help you select the right path toward remaining legally in the United States.
Although arrests and deportations have decreased, immigrants without a green card should remain aware that ICE officers may still apprehend them. Attempting to stay in the United States may become more difficult but not impossible if you are taken into custody. Finding the right legal pathway for your situation is the key to remaining here legally. Yet, the best defense for any illegal status is to remedy it before ICE officials catch up with you and attempt to return you to your home country.