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DHS to pause some deportations during Biden's first 100 days to review policies

The move by David Pekoske, the acting secretary of homeland security, comes on the first day of the Biden administration.
Image: ICE Deports Guatemalan Families Under Expedited Process
Families arrive on an ICE deportation flight from Brownsville, Texas on Aug. 29, 2019 to Guatemala City.John Moore / Getty Images file

The Biden administration late Wednesday ordered a pause on some deportations for 100 days starting no later than Friday as it reviews enforcement policies.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske directed a review of immigration enforcement practices and policies.

"For 100 days, starting January 22, 2021, DHS will pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety," a statement read.

The move comes on the first day of President Joe Biden's administration. Biden was sworn in as the 46th president earlier Wednesday.

Former President Donald Trump, who left for Florida before the inauguration ceremony, was criticized for deportations and hard-line policies regarding immigration and border issues and a widely condemned "zero tolerance" policy that separated thousands of children from their families.

Lawyers working to reunite families separated during the Trump administration have said they haven't been able to find the parents of hundreds of those children.

Biden on Wednesday revoked one of Trump's earliest executive orders, which essentially made it a policy to act on anyone in the country illegally and opposed exemptions.

Biden has pledged to "restore sensible enforcement priorities," and he has said targeting those who have lived and worked in the U.S. for decades is counterproductive.

Biden signed also executive orders Wednesday repealing Trump's restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority countries and stopping construction of the Southern border wall.

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Pekoske issued a memo directing Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other parts of the Department of Homeland Security "to review and reset enforcement policies and set interim policies for civil enforcement while the Department develops its final priorities."

For civil enforcement, the memo said, Homeland Security's priorities for now will focus on things like national security risks, people arrested at the border trying to enter illegally and people released from prisons or jails after being convicted of serious crimes.

The 100-day pause on enforcing ordered deportations doesn't apply to people suspected of terrorism or other national security concerns, according to the memo.

It also doesn't apply to those who weren't in the U.S. before Nov. 1 or who waive their right to stay, and it doesn't apply if the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement "makes an individualized determination" that removal is required.