Press Release

McHenry Sends Letter to Biden Administration on Immigration Policies

Earlier this week, Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10) sent a letter to David Pekoske the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the Biden Administration's recently announced interim immigration enforcement and removal policies. One of these policies is a 100-day pause on deportations of any noncitizens, which violates the Sanctuary for American First Enactment (SAFE) Agreement.

"It is unacceptable that DHS’s new policy went into place within forty-eight hours, without gathering any feedback from local agencies and communities who signed the SAFE Agreement," said Congressman McHenry. "The SAFE Agreement not only helped to ensure immigration laws are being properly enforced, but it also helps to ensure the safety of local law enforcement and the communities they protect."

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, who signed the SAFE Agreement with DHS, also released the following statement on the recent policy change and Congressman McHenry's letter:

As Rockingham County Sheriff, one of my top responsibilities is public safety. When anyone commits a criminal offense in Rockingham County, and it is determined they are here illegally, then we assist our federal partners to ensure those offenders are lawfully and promptly removed from our country at the appropriate time.” said Sheriff Page. “That is why I joined into the SAFE Agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. The Biden Administration’s actions—which were taken with no advance notice or justification—are a clear violation of the agreement I signed. I’d like to thank Congressman McHenry for his leadership demanding answers from the Biden DHS on how this could happen.

The text of the letter is below. A copy of the letter can be accessed by clicking here.

David Pekoske
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Acting Secretary Pekoske:

I am writing in response to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) memorandum dated January 20, 2021, which set interim immigration enforcement and removal policies for the new Administration. One such policy is a I 00-day pause on deportations of any noncitizens, even those with a final order of removal, which you directed to go into effect no later than January 22 with limited exceptions. 

Not only does the Administration's action fail to comply with existing immigration law, it also violates an agreement between DHS and the Rockingham County, N.C. Sheriffs Office (hereby referred to as Sheriffs Office). signed January 12, 2021, in multiple ways. This agreement, officially named the "Sanctuary for Americans First Enactment (SAFE) Agreement," is mutually beneficial for all parties involved. 

Under the agreement, the Sheriff's Office is required to provide information and assistance to help OHS carryout its immigration and security missions. In return, the Department has an obligation to inform and consult with the County Sheriffs Office before any major decisions are implemented that could, among other actions, reduce immigration enforcement or increase the number of illegal aliens in the United States. Under Section IJI.A.2, DHS is explicitly required to consult with and consider the Sheriff Office's views after proposing any policies that involve "pausing or decreasing the number of returns or removals of ... inadmissible aliens." The SAFE agreement also states that DHS must provide 180-days' notice before implementation of the proposed action, and consider input from the Sheriff's Office. including providing an explanation behind any decision to reject the advice. 

However, by proposing and subsequently implementing the policy, none of these conditions were met. DHS did not contact or notify the Sheriffs Office after announcing the policy and implemented it without allowing for feedback well before the 180-day minimum. Any substantial changes to immigration policy affect law enforcement and citizens' health, safety, and fiscal interests at the local level. Therefore, agencies such as the Sheriffs Office must be informed and allowed to provide input into major decisions. In the agreement, OHS itself acknowledges the broad array of negative consequences policy changes, such as the one your Department recently implemented, can have on local entities, including budget needs which have been set months in advance with little ability to adjust.

Due to the reasons listed above and DHS' violation of the SAFE Agreement with the Sheriffs Office, I demand that you immediately rescind the Administration's immigration memorandum and reverse the freeze on deportations of illegal aliens. I also request that any future immigration actions that OHS and the Administration take adhere to the SAFE Agreement in order for the Sheriffs Office to be aware of proposed changes and to allow input from a ground level to make informed adjustments. It is unacceptable that DHS's new policy went into place within 48 hours, without conferring with or gathering any feedback from local agencies and communities who signed these agreements. I ask that you respond with I) DHS' plan to abide by the SAFE agreement in the recent deportation freeze order and 2) How OHS will ensure it abides by the agreement in the future before other policies are proposed and enacted.


Patrick McHenry
Member of Congress