23:16 GMT01 March 2021
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    On Thursday, at least 200 illegal immigrants were apprehended by Customs and Border Protection officials in Mission, Texas, after the migrants were smuggled into the US.

    The Biden administration has rolled out new guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that define stricter parameters for ICE officers when it comes to detaining migrants.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a federal law enforcement agency under the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency's stated mission is to protect America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration.

    The new regulations oblige ICE field officers to focus on three categories of migrants, including those who pose a threat to national security and those who have crossed or attempted to cross the nation's borders without legal permission on or after 1 November 2020.

    Those migrants who have committed "aggravated felonies" under US immigration law should also be placed under the agency's radar in line with the guidelines signed by acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.

    US Customs and Border Protection agents and Central American migrants on International Bridge 1 Las Americas
    © AP Photo / Marco Ugarte
    US Customs and Border Protection agents and Central American migrants on International Bridge 1 Las Americas

    The rules stipulate that if ICE officers want to arrest a migrant outside of the three aforementioned categories, they will need to receive prior approval from their local field office directors.

    Johnson, for his part, said in a statement on Thursday that "by focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security, and public safety" ICE "will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission".

    "Like every law enforcement agency at the local, state, and federal level, we must prioritise our efforts to achieve the greatest security and safety impact", he pointed out.

    According to him, ICE officers obtaining pre-approval from their managers would help "better coordinate our [the agency's] efforts, achieve consistency in our operations, and inform the development of the secretary's new enforcement guidelines".

    The document was unveiled as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Rio Grande Valley Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings reported on Thursday that about 200 illegal immigrants, including at least 40 unaccompanied minors, were detained in the city of Mission, Texas.

    He tweeted that migrants were accompanied across the border by "human smugglers", who "continue [their] brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger" despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Biden's Policy on Migration

    The developments come after repeated calls by US President Joe Biden to drastically change the Trump administration's so-called zero-tolerance immigration policy. Shortly after his inauguration, Biden ordered the establishment of an inter-agency task force for the "reunification of families" along the southern border, setting a 120-day deadline to submit an initial report.

    Additionally, POTUS gave instructions to temporarily stop the construction of a border wall near America's southern frontier with Mexico, earlier initiated by Trump. The Biden administration also announced a bill that would provide citizenship to about 11 million illegal immigrants living in the US.

    Biden later announced that his administration is going to raise the limit of refugees that can come to the US to 125,000. The previous refugee admission cap was reduced to 15,000 by Trump.


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    national security, border, guidance, migrants, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Joe Biden, US
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