In the wake of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) controversial Detroit-area arrest of two undocumented immigrants who were apprehended while taking their children to school, a memorandum about the agency’s policy on enforcement actions “at or focused on sensitive locations,” such as schools, churches, and hospitals, has gained renewed attention among members of law enforcement and immigrant rights supporters alike.

The memorandum, published on October 24, 2011, directs that “any planned enforcement action at or focused on a sensitive location covered by [the] policy must have prior approval…” absent unique circumstances such as “immediate need [or] imminent risk” in order to “avoid unnecessarily alarming local communities.” Although an internal investigation concluded that the recent action complied with ICE policies and procedures, the incident has triggered protests by Latino and church groups and has even led a state representative to call for the resignation of the local ICE Director.