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Immigrants Rights Leaders Discuss Biden’s 100 Day Deportation Moratorium, the Texas TRO, and the Road Forward

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A recording of the call is available here.

On a press call earlier today, immigrants rights activists who fought for and won the Biden administration’s 100-day deportation moratorium discussed the Biden policies, the Texas litigation, and the way forward.

“The DHS policy to pause deportations was a testament to the power of the immigrant justice movement and it would not have happened without years and years of organizing by immigrant-led organizations across the country,” Lorella Praeli, President, Community Change Action, said. “These leaders have worked tirelessly to highlight and expose the cruelty of the deportation machinery, the racism baked into the rules of the system, and the white supremacy that the system serves.  So, even as we continue to fight this court decision, we will continue to press the Biden-Harris Administration to do the work of undoing Trump’s cruelty and building a system that is fair, humane, and functional. We voted for a new day in America and we will not let an anti-immigrant State Attorney General and a District Court Judge in Texas stop us.”

Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director, National Immigration Project, said, “What I want to make very clear at the outset is that even though a judge in Texas has paused the automatic blanket pause on all deportations, that does not impact the administration’s ability to exercise the authority not to deport people in a case-by-case way. The decision does not apply to the enforcement priorities part of the memo, the agency review, or the rescission of prior policies. The ruling on the moratorium on deportations means that a categorical pause is no longer in place, but  it does not require the government to deport people. People can still apply for stays of removal, the  government can still exercise on its own the discretion not to deport people, and ICE can still follow the new enforcement priorities that have been articulated and that are taking effect on Feb 1.”

Silky Shah, Executive Director, Detention Watch Network said,The moratorium and shift in guidelines for enforcement and detention are an important first step, but to truly protect immigrant communities, detention must be addressed. Biden’s announcement on private prisons yesterday notably excluded ICE detention, even though private prisons make up 81 percent of detention beds. Biden must follow through on his promise to end the use of private prisons in the entirety of the federal system including DHS. And rather than just phasing out private prisons, the administration needs to begin ending their detention center contracts now. Trump expanded detention by 40 percent, and many of these contracts will last for years. Merely waiting for the contracts to phase out will only continue the incredible harm of detention.”

Claudia Muñoz, Co-Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership said, “Our current Texas GOP leadership, particularly our governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and all of their allies constantly orient violence towards those who they hate most. Particularly Texas, white supremacy often uses the law as a weapon. These times we’re no different. We know that their goal is to stop the new DHS directives immediately and use the court system to limit DHS’ discretion over deportation and release from detention. But here in Texas and across the nation, communities have been fighting back — we did not stop fighting to get people released from detention and to stop the deportation, and the recent order from the Texas judge will not stop us. I can assure you that, as someone who is currently in deportation proceedings, we’ll continue to fight all the way through. The more that the state of Texas oriented towards death, the more that we push back and orient towards life. It is people like us from across the country who fought for the moratorium, and it is us who will defend it. We will not back down. The Trump agenda cannot continue and we cannot let Texas be a tool for that.”

“During the last four years, the deportation forces of ICE and CBP have been allowed to continue to terrorize and devastate our community. Our demand of a moratorium on deportation was a call that was coming from people who are being directly impacted by family separation, detention, and deportation,” Cynthia Garcia, National Campaigns Manager of Community Protection, United We Dream, said. “This lawsuit against President Biden’s deportation pause is a deliberate attack on immigrants from the same AG who is currently suing and trying to end DACA. President Biden must use every tool at his disposal to provide relief for immigrant communities by fighting back against this lawsuit to enact and expand his pause on deportation, protecting and expanding programs like DACA and TPS to provide relief for more people, pushing Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to deliver on a pathway to citizenship for the over 11 undocumented people in this country, taking concrete steps to defund ICE, and holding those agencies accountable for the pain and deaths of immigrants they have caused. ICE and CBP are rogue agencies that will continue to run rampant. We must fight back.”

Yaritza Mendez, Associate Director of Organizing, Make the Road New York, said, “The moratorium on deportations is a key and common-sense step forward to begin to reconstruct our country’s immigration system. The recent court ruling is outrageous and proves the dire need for Congress and President Biden to take bold and strong measures to dismantle ICE and pass legislation that will pave the way for immigrants in this country to stop living in fear. We will continue to fight and organize to ensure the full implementation of the memorandum on deportations and provide community members with Know Your Rights materials to know how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”