The decision to suspend the deportations was taken “to ensure that we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security and public safety,” DHS said in a statement. The moratorium Biden promised to impose during his campaign will begin on Friday.
The break is intended to give time for an internal review.
“(W) We must ensure that our remedial resources are geared to the Department’s highest law enforcement priorities,” the note said, adding later: “The process must provide for evaluations of alternatives to elimination, including, but not limited to, stay or reopening of cases, alternative forms of detention, imprisonment, whether to take a suspended action or other appropriate action. “
Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske instructed the department’s three immigration agencies to review immigration policies and practices, citing in part the ongoing challenges on the US-Mexico border, the note said.
“The United States faces significant operational challenges on the southwestern border as it faces the most serious global public health crisis of a century,” the note said. “In the light of these unique circumstances, the Department must direct resources to the border to ensure safe, legal and organized processing, restore fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and the proper process, and adopt appropriate guidelines and protocols for public health, and to give priority in response to threats to national security, public safety and border security. “
The memorandum also sets priorities for implementation, noting a return to Obama-era practices. These categories include national security, border security and public safety.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.