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New Enforcement Guidelines for Apprehension of Undocumented Noncitizens

Blogs from October, 2021


On September 30, 2021, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Joe Biden announced new guidelines for enforcing civil immigration law. Secretary Mayorkas issued a memorandum to ICE, CBP, and USCIS (among others) where he stated that “it is estimated that there are more than 11 million undocumented or otherwise removable noncitizens in the United States. We do not have the resources to apprehend and seek the removal of every one of these noncitizens. Therefore, we need to exercise our discretion and determine whom to prioritize for immigration enforcement action.”

Secretary Mayorkas recognized the contributions made by noncitizens to the USA: “…we are guided by the fact that the majority of undocumented noncitizens who could be subject to removal have been contributing members of our communities for years. They include individuals who work on the frontlines in the battle against COVID, lead our congregations of faith, teach our children, do back-breaking farm work to help deliver food to our table, and contribute in many other meaningful ways.”

Most importantly, Secretary Mayorkas directed that “the fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.”

In the memorandum, Secretary Mayorkas outlined which undocumented noncitizens will be considered “a priority for apprehension and removal:”

-anyone who engaged in or is suspected of terrorism, espionage, or who poses a danger to national security

-anyone who poses a current threat to public safety due to serious criminal conduct

-anyone who poses a threat to border security (considered to be anyone who is apprehended at the border or port of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S., or anyone caught in the U.S. after unlawfully entering after Nov.1, 2020.

See Secretary Mayorkas memorandum at

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