For Immediate Release: September 30, 2021
Contact: Morgan Caplan at 443-986-1221 or

Advocates React to New DHS Guidelines on Prosecutorial Discretion, Enforcement and Detention

You can listen to a recording of the call here

Washington, DC – On a press call today, immigration advocates react to the new DHS guidelines on prosecutorial discretion, enforcement and detention. Speakers on the call called on the Biden administration to realign its commitment to a safe and humane immigration system rather than targeting immigrants for enforcement, detention and deportation and inflating and exploiting racial inequity.

“DHS, ICE, Border Control have historically been very violent against migrant communities,” Jacinta Gonzalez, Senior Campaign Organizer, Mijente, said. “Unfortunately, since Biden took office, detention has increased by 70%. We have all seen how DHS and ICE officials have treated all migrants — especially Haitians — in recent weeks. This memo replicates many guidelines we have seen in the past, using racist terms against members of the community without any basis. In some areas, these guidelines represent steps forward, including an individualized review process, and ensuring that people’s first amendment rights are protected to speak out against abuses. However, unfortunately, these guidelines place a lot of enforcement power in DHS officials themselves, limiting possible avenues of accountability. We call on organizers to continue to push on the frontlines. This policy will only be as good as its results. This could be the basis to start conducting the important work, but we must continue to push and advocate for just immigration policies.”

Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, said, “This memo falls far short of delivering what our communities need: bold and fundamental transformation, not changes around the edges to the same detention and deportation machinery. Today, on the 25th anniversary of IIRIRA, we are reminded of the pressing need to disentangle our immigration and criminal legal systems. While we are encouraged by the shift away from categorical exclusions, we are extremely concerned that the ‘national security’, ‘border security’, and ‘public safety’ framing will continue to target Black, Brown, Muslim, Arab, Asian, and other immigrants of color, and feed the detention and deportation machines.”

Stacy Suh, Program Director of Detention Watch Network, said, “Ultimately, the prosecutorial discretion memo can only do so much in an immigration system that criminalizes and targets people who are navigating their immigration case. Reducing the scale of the immigration enforcement, detention, and deportation apparatus is one of the most concrete ways to protect migrant communities. The Biden administration must deliver on his campaign promises and shut down detention centers and halt any plans for detention expansion.”

“The devil really is in the details,” said Sonia Lin, Executive Strategy Director for the We Are Home Campaign, who moderated the call. “There is a lot we need to continue to focus on and watch to see which direction this agency goes from this point.”


We Are Home is a nationwide campaign to fight for immigrant communities on three fronts: prioritizing and demanding a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; a moratorium and overhaul of interior enforcement; and broad affirmative relief from deportation. We Are Home is co-chaired by Community Change/Community Change Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)/Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers/UFW Foundation; and United We Dream.