WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Sarah Rich, senior supervising attorney with the Immigrant Justice Project, in response to the new Department of Homeland Security memo issuing guidelines on ‘Protected Locations’ - including schools, medical facilities, houses of worship, playgrounds, and ceremonies like funerals and weddings - where Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are now prevented from taking enforcement actions.
“These guidelines recognize that our immigrant neighbors — so many of whom were deemed ‘essential’ during this pandemic and who suffered disproportionately from exposure to coronavirus because of it — also need to access essential services and go to essential locations, like anyone does.
“No one should feel unsafe or afraid to go to school, seek medical care, worship, take their kids to a playground, or attend a funeral or wedding. For too long, federal agents aggressively policed these and other locations regardless of their bearing on a person’s basic welfare. Immigrant communities, particularly in the South, were blocked from participating in necessary aspects of life.
“This is a welcome positive step building on the recent announcement ending workplace raids, which for decades allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit immigrant workers who oftentimes face the threat of deportation. Both new guidelines are important strides in addressing the dehumanizing policies that have plagued daily life for immigrants in this country for too long.
“DHS should also take steps to ensure that all ICE and CBP agents actually follow these guidelines. Unfortunately, we have seen far too many examples of agents ignoring intended reforms with impunity. DHS needs to monitor implementation of this memo, publish data on where interior enforcement actions take place, and refuse to implement proceedings against immigrants who are detained in any of the protected areas outlined in the memo.”
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