Client Alerts

Department of Homeland Security Pauses Deportations for 100 Days and Sets Interim Guidelines for ICE Enforcement

By: David W. Leopold

About: Immigration

January 21, 2021 – On January 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a guidance memo (the “Memo”) that puts a 100-day pause on removals, sets forth interim immigration enforcement priorities, and directs DHS to begin a department-wide review of enforcement actions.

The removal pause goes into effect no later than January 22, 2021, and covers any noncitizen present in the United States with a final order of removal. The Memo still allows the deportation of any noncitizen:

  1. Who has engaged in or is suspected of terrorism or espionage, or otherwise poses a danger to the national security of the United States;
  2. Who was not physically present in the United States before November 1, 2020;
  3. Who has voluntarily agreed to waive any rights to remain in the United States; or
  4. For whom the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following consultation with the General Counsel, makes an individualized determination that removal is required by law.

No one else will be removed during the 100-day pause.

The Memo also sets forth new interim enforcement guidelines effective February 1, 2021. The guidelines — which will remain in effect until permanent enforcement priorities are issued —focus immigration enforcement operations on national security threats, recent border crossers (defined as noncitizens who entered the United States after November 1, 2020), and those convicted of aggravated felonies who are incarcerated in prisons and determined to be a threat to public safety. Enforcement actions against anyone outside of a prison — including individuals with aggravated felony convictions — require advance approval of the ICE Director.

Moreover, the Memo directs the acting ICE Director to issue operational guidance that will include a process for the ICE Director to approve any civil enforcement action outside federal or state prisons or jails.

Finally, the Memo orders a department-wide review of all enforcement practices to be completed within 100 days along with recommendations regarding enforcement, prosecutorial discretion, detention, and interaction with state and local law enforcement.

Ulmer’s Immigration Law Group is closely monitoring these developments and is prepared to support you and your organization with your business needs. Please reach out to our immigration attorneys if you have any questions.

The information provided in this client alert speaks only to the information and guidance we have available as of the date of publication and is subject to change. We will continue to follow further issued guidance and regulations and endeavor to post those updates via our website. This legal update was created by Ulmer & Berne LLP, and is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. Receipt of this client alert, by itself, does not create an attorney client relationship. For any questions, or for further information, please contact David W. Leopold at