Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued new directives to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers instructing them that migrants being in the country illegally “should not alone be the basis” for apprehending and deporting them.
“The overriding question is whether the noncitizen poses a current threat to public safety,” Mayorkas wrote in a Thursday memo to ICE, according to the Washington Post.
Mayokas says the new directive, which goes into effect on November 29th, means ICE officers should not attempt to arrest and deport farmworkers, the elderly, and illegal immigrants who speak out at public demonstrations.
“Are we going to spend the time apprehending and removing the farmworker who is breaking his or her back to pick fruit that we all put on our tables?” Mayorkas said in an interview this week. “Because if we pursue that individual, we will not be spending those same resources on somebody who does, in fact, threaten our safety. And that is what this is about.”
Mayorkas’ new directive gives ICE employees far more discretion to determine who to deport than previous guidelines which required supervisors to sign off on some deportations to make sure rules were followed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
The news of the updated guidelines comes as the Biden administration continues to take criticism for the handling of the migrant surge at the southern border.
More than 1 million illegal immigrants have been encountered by border patrol agents at the border this year which some say has created a humanitarian crisis at the border as understaffed law enforcement agencies struggle to house and process the migrants.
Some Republicans have called for Biden to resign from office over the crisis including Rep. Bob Gibbs who cited Biden’s handling of the border as part of the reason for filing articles of impeachment against the president earlier this month.
“His willful negligence of the border crisis is a failure to maintain and defend American sovereignty,” Gibbs said.
In a tweet Wednesday Abbott agreed that Biden should be impeached.
“Mayorkas admits ‘tragic rise’ of delta variant at US-Mexico border ‘surprised’ him,” Abbot said. “He shouldn’t be surprised. We have long warned about this danger. Biden knowingly imported this danger into U.S. @DanCrenshawTX rightly calls for impeachment.”
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, responded to the new directive from Mayorkas by accusing the Biden administration of welcoming illegal immigrants.
“The Biden administration has welcomed the flood of illegal aliens crossing our border and is now promising those same illegal aliens that they may stay in the U.S. without repercussions,” Cotton tweeted.
Earlier this week, Gov. Abbott appealed a denial of his state’s Federal Emergency Declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency which was aimed at addressing the crisis at the border.
“President Biden has turned his back on Texans living along the border, and FEMA’s refusal to declare a federal emergency at the border puts their health, safety, and property at risk,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas is appealing this detrimental decision by FEMA because the Biden Administration’s refusal to solve the crisis at our border has led to a strain on local, state, and federal resources.”
Abbott added, “The surge of over 16,000 migrants at the Del Rio International Bridge is just one of the most recent examples of the federal government’s failure to take action. A member of the United States Customs and Border Protection said that order was only maintained thanks to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard, and local stakeholders, and the President of the National Border Patrol Council estimated that troopers outnumbered federal agents by three to one.”