DHS Enforcement Guidance: Practice Advisories for Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorneys

NOTE: There is ongoing litigation challenging the Biden administration priorities which may impact advocacy for individuals. For more information, refer to Practice Alert: Judge Tipton Issues Decision Vacating Mayorkas Enforcement Priorities Memo published by our partners NIPNLG. ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor has a FAQ available with the office's current policy. 

On November 29, 2021, DHS’s new enforcement guidance memo, issued by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on September 30, 2021, went into effect. This memo is supposed to guide ICE and CBP actions related to immigration arrest, detention, and deportation. These policies continue to use flawed frameworks and provide a lot of discretion to ICE agents in determining whether to take action against any individual. They also open up advocacy tools to protect our clients and communities against ICE, while we continue to push back against this administration’s reliance on contact with the criminal system and on illusory “border security” and “national security” grounds as a basis to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants.

IDP and our partners ILRC and NIPNLG, have written two practice advisories with an explanation and advocacy strategies for immigrant clients in light of this memo.  

  • The Practice Advisory for Criminal Defense Attorneys provides guidance for defense attorneys on identifying issues and advocacy strategies for immigrant clients in light of the Mayorkas memo. We have written this to be useful for Padilla attorneys and line defenders.
  • The Practice Advisory for Immigration Advocates focuses on immigration practice and strategies for seeking prosecutorial discretion from ICE in custody decisions, removal proceedings, and other contexts. 


IDP and our partners ILRC and NIPNLG previously published explanations of the interim enforcement priorities described in the memorandum issued by Acting ICE Director Tae D. Johnson (“Johnson memo”) on February 18, 2021 in a Practice Advisory for Criminal Defense Attorneys and an Advisory for Immigration Advocates

Community Defense Resources

IDP has also published updated Know Your Rights materials for community members that are designed to help clients navigate arrest, detention and deportation.