In an update announcement on Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that they would temporarily suspend the arrest and deportation of illegal immigrants who are not wanted on criminal charges. The announcement, which comes as health officials have worried that illegal aliens would not seek coronavirus testing and treatment for fear of being detained, should have a positive impact when it comes to containing the spread of the disease.
“Our highest priorities are to promote lifesaving public safety activities,” ICE said in a notification to Congress. “During the COVID-19 crisis, ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”
In a statement on Thursday, DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli sought to downplay the announcement, assuring concerned Americans that ICE was not taking a prolonged sabbatical during the pandemic.
“The health and safety of Americans is paramount. Thus, ICE will, as it has during other times of crisis, conduct enforcement operations that protect our communities and uphold our laws,” Cuccinelli said. “This means that ICE will continue to prioritize arresting and removing criminal aliens and other aliens who pose a threat to public safety, just as it always has during President Trump’s administration.
“That does not mean that no other removable aliens will in fact be removed, but during the current public health situation, removals will be done in such a way as to minimize the exposure of our agents and of the removable aliens we are encountering,” he continued. “ICE will exercise its law enforcement authority in a manner that accounts for the dangers presented by COVID-19, while maintaining the safety and security of the communities it has sworn to protect.”
Well, this sounds like a bit of doublespeak meant to make it seem like nothing has changed, when clearly something has.
It’s fine, for the time being. After all, what we have right now is basically what Joe Biden wants to make a permanent situation: Unspoken amnesty for all 11+ illegal aliens except for those that go out and commit violent felonies. Unlike how it would be under Biden, this measure of relief is only temporary under Trump.
And, when you consider it from that perspective, it’s actually a wise move. It doesn’t make any sense to put ICE officials or communities surrounding illegal immigrants in extra danger just to keep up enforcement at a time like this.
But after this is over? We need to think long and hard about our hospitals and our health care capacity…and whether we really want to stretch this system to the snapping point with people who shouldn’t be here to begin with.