Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary David Pekoske signed a memorandum on Wednesday, pausing deportations of non-citizens for 100 days starting on Friday.
"For 100 days, starting January 22, 2021, DHS will pause removals for certain non-citizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety”, the memo said.
The move will enable DHS to make sure all its resources are diverted to tackling the "most pressing challenges" the United States is currently facing, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and US-Mexico border security.
"Throughout this interim period DHS will continue to enforce" US immigration laws, according to the memo.
The move comes after US President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders to undo Donald Trump's legacy during his first day in office on Wednesday, inking documents regarding immigration, climate change, racial equity, and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with NBC News in November 2020, then projected President-elect Biden pointed out that when in office, he first and foremost would concentrate on changing the country’s immigration laws.
He said he had "made a commitment" that "in the first 100 days", he will "send an immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America".
Biden is also expected to extend protections for the so-called “dreamers" and rescind Donald Trump's travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries using his executive authority.
The US president earlier pledged that under his administration, not “another foot” of the border wall, one of Trump's pet projects and electoral promises, would be built.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acting chief Mark Morgan, for his part, warned that Biden's intent to ditch Trump's plans to build a border wall on the nation's southern border could cost the country's taxpayers "billions of dollars".
The US president signing immigration orders comes a few days after some members of a caravan of Honduran migrants agreed to return to their country after clashes with Guatemalan security forces on Tuesday. This followed a Biden transition team official reportedly saying that the Honduran migrants "need to understand they're not going to be able to come into the United States immediately".
"The situation at the border isn't going to be transformed overnight. There's help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey", the official added.