WASHINGTON, D.C. (KGTV) — The Biden administration has announced new "protected areas" that will now limit where immigration officials can arrest people. The new policy applies to all Department of Homeland Security employees.
In a memo earlier this week, DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued the new guidance, calling them protected areas.
The list of places includes schools, medical facilities, and places of worship. Places where kids gather, like daycares or playgrounds, are also off-limits. Other examples include disaster relief centers, domestic violence shelters, and even public demonstrations like parades or rallies.
Dulce Garcia, the chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium participated in a conversation with DHS officials on Wednesday, where immigration advocate groups expressed their concerns about the policy. Garcia applauds the administration's move, and the ongoing conversations around immigration, but says there is still a concern because the memo leaves it up to DHS officers and agents to use their judgment to determine whether or not an area is protected.
“In other words, these agents and including rogue agents that are with the mindset of the prior administration have the discretion to violate this policy, this memo,” says Garcia.
Other immigration advocates worry about how the community would be able to file complaints if officials don't follow the new rules. The administration says agents and officers will get updated training.
“It’s not clear how the rollout will take place, we also don't know how someone might file a complaint for any sort of violation for this policy,” says Pedro Rios, the director of the American Friends Service Committee.
In a statement, Congressman Darrell Issa reacted to the policy saying:
From day one, the Biden White House had two goals for its immigration policy: open the nation's borders to the world and end effective enforcement within our country. Stopping our law enforcement professionals from apprehending known and dangerous criminals in public places isn't humane. it's dangerous for our communities and destabilizing for our neighborhoods.
The new guidelines are effective immediately.