For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020
Contact: Arianna Rosales, media [at] ilrc.org

ILRC: ICE’s Enforcement Response to Pandemic Falls Short and Perpetuates Criminalization of Immigrant Communities

Yesterday evening, ICE announced plans to focus immigration enforcement efforts on so-called “public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds,” failing to recognize that the appropriate pandemic response requires the suspension of all immigration enforcement activities.

The new plans around enforcement efforts follow an announcement in which Trump vowed to turn away all asylum seekers and individuals at the US-Mexico border. Rather than recognizing common humanity during this global pandemic, the Trump administration has once again shown a lack of moral leadership and continues to advance policies that criminalize immigrants and deny entry to Black immigrants and immigrants of color.  

Said Sameera Hafiz, policy director at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

“The Trump administration’s announcement that it will continue enforcement activities against individuals with certain criminal histories belies the need to recognize our common humanity, particularly in the face of a global health crisis. 

“Time and time again, we’ve seen ‘public safety’ used as an excuse to further criminalize Black immigrants and immigrants of color. Our deeply flawed criminal legal system operates on using dehumanizing labels. We must stop treating individuals as disposable under the guise of ‘public safety.’ 

“At a time when public health should be everyone’s top priority, Trump is weaponizing fear of this virus to push forward his racist agenda. If the administration is serious about flattening the curve and stopping the spread of COVID-19, it would terminate all interior enforcement activity by putting a stop to the public health risk they have control over.”