The Biden administration announced a 100-day moratorium on deportations late Wednesday, just hours after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president. The move was in keeping with a pledge Biden had made in February 2020 that was greeted with support but also some skepticism by immigrant advocates. “For 100 days, starting on 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,” the Department of Homeland Security wrote in a memorandum. While the moratorium was quickly hailed as a win for immigrant-rights groups, the DHS appeared to leave plenty of leeway for deportations to still be allowed at the discretion of the acting secretary, who the statement says can “make an individualized determination that removal is required by law.” In addition, the moratorium will not apply to individuals who “voluntarily agreed to waive any rights to remain in the United States, provided that he or she has been made fully aware of the consequences of waiver,” the memorandum reads. Immigration lawyers have complained in the past of clients being pressured to sign such waivers, or signing them without being able to understand what rights they were waiving.
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