President Joe Biden has reversed another of his predecessor’s immigration enforcement policies in issuing an executive order on Friday barring Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from detaining illegal alien mothers who are nursing infant children.
The order will further restrict the nation’s preeminent immigration enforcement agency and is sure to inflame tensions with Republicans who are frustrated with the Biden administration’s border policies in general, which they say are directly responsible for the current and worsening migrant crisis that has seen record numbers of people crossing illegally into the U.S. since January.
Biden administration officials claim the president’s policies are more humane than those of former President Donald Trump, but GOP lawmakers have countered that Biden’s policies have actually led to a humanitarian crisis along the border as well as inhuman treatment of migrants — especially women and children — by Mexican cartel smugglers. Republicans also charge that the White House’s policies are feeding unrestricted illegal immigration.
“There’s nothing humane about encouraging human trafficking of infants and pregnant women,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a tweet Friday in response to the president’s order. “This policy will make the Biden border crisis worse.”
Last week, a group of Texas law enforcement officials and the Federal Police Foundation, which represents ICE agents among others, filed a lawsuit against the administration after hampering the enforcement agency’s ability to deport criminal aliens.
Filed in the Southern District of Texas, the suit states that one of Biden’s policies, along with those enacted by the Department of Homeland Security, are serving as magnets for criminal aliens to cross back into the U.S., which is negatively affecting law enforcement as well as many Texas communities.
“The ICE officers involved in this case are absolutely astounded at what their superiors are asking them to do: releasing people charged with rape of a child, releasing people charged with dealing drugs and resisting arrest,” said Kris Kobach, a former attorney general for the state of Kansas as well as plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.
“These are really serious criminals, and ICE is being ordered by the political leadership of the Biden administration to turn them loose,” he further noted.
Biden administration officials, including acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, refute such claims and say that the newest order will ensure the “health and safety of pregnant, postpartum and nursing individuals” while reflecting “our commitment to treat all individuals with respect and dignity.”
The policy dictates that, in the few circumstances when confinement is warranted, expectant mothers, as well as mothers who are postpartum or are nursing, must be monitored and given adequate medical care.
“Given the unique needs of this population, we will not detain individuals known to be pregnant, postpartum, or nursing unless release is prohibited by law or exceptional circumstances exist,” Johnson announced on Friday.
Johnson also issued the policy that resulted in the lawsuit; that directive was sent out on Feb. 18. It states that illegal immigrants who are known or suspected terrorists, those who came into the U.S. illegally prior to the 2020 presidential election, and anyone who has been convicted of aggravated felonies or is a known member of a criminal gang can be accepted from local law enforcement and detained without prior approve from an ICE supervisor.
Before the memo was issued, anyone in the country illegally who had been detained by local law enforcement was eligible to be turned over to ICE to face deportation proceedings.
The Biden order mirrors one previously issued by then-President Barack Obama, with whom he served as vice president. Trump reversed that order when he took office in 2017.
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