- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ICE said Wednesday that it will “adjust its enforcement posture” amid the coronavirus crisis, limiting arrests only to the most serious cases and reaffirming that nobody will be arrested at a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.

It was the strongest statement to date for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said its deportation officers will focus “on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”

“For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, [deportation officers] will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate,” the agency said.

Hospitals have long been considered sensitive locations where ICE arrests were disallowed except in extreme cases, but immigrant-rights advocates had for weeks called for more explicit guarantees amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, the California Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees ICE’s budget, said she had prodded the agency earlier in the day to make the announcement.

“During the COVID-19 public health crisis, it is imperative for all Americans, regardless of immigration status, to be unafraid of seeking medical attention,” she said.

Immigrant-rights advocates have gone further, demanding ICE release people currently in detention.

As of Wednesday, the agency had not agreed to those demands.

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