On Joe Biden’s first day as president, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced a 100-day pause on some deportations.
“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” David Pekoske said in a statement.
A posting on the DHS website says, “Today, Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Pekoske signed a memorandum directing DHS components, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, to review and reset enforcement policies and set interim policies for civil enforcement while the Department develops its final priorities.”
“For 100 days, starting January 22, 2021, DHS will pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety.” The statement also says, “Throughout this interim period DHS will continue to enforce our immigration laws.”
The move comes as a caravan of thousands of migrants from Honduras is marching toward the U.S. border.
Some 7,000 to 8,000 migrants are marching toward the U.S. southern border, according to Reuters, and they violently clashed with Guatemalan security forces, who used batons and sticks to beat them back.
The caravan is calling on the incoming Biden administration to honor their “commitments” to the migrants, according to a statement issued by migrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras on behalf of the caravan. The group cites Biden’s vow to ease Trump’s restrictions on asylum.
But on Sunday, an unnamed Biden transition official told NBC News that the migrants, many of whom hope to claim asylum in the U.S., “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,” the official told the outlet. “We have to provide a message that health and hope is on the way, but coming right now does not make sense for their own safety…while we put into place processes that they may be able to access in the future.”
As one of his first acts in office, Biden overturned President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, which keeps migrants in Mexico as they await their political asylum hearings in court.
Biden also plans to ask Congress to offer legal status to an estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Under Biden’s plan, illegal aliens would become eligible for legal permanent residence after five years and for U.S. citizenship after another three years, a faster path to citizenship than in other bills.
The president-elect campaigned on diametrically opposing Trump on the issue, who sought to shut down the southern border with Mexico and banned people from several countries from coming into the U.S.
Related: With Biden Set To Become President, Migrant Caravans Return, March To U.S. Southern Border