The Obama Administration plans to review 300,000 pending deportation cases with the intention of filing motions to dismiss proceedings in favor of individuals who do not have criminal convictions. This determination will allegedly be made on a case-by-case basis.
Politico reports that people who were brought to the U.S. as children, military veterans and spouses of military personnel will be the first to benefit from this policy.
Here is the announcement that was posted on the White House blog:
President Obama is deeply committed to fixing our immigration laws and has been aggressively searching for partners in Congress who are willing to work with him to pass a new law. As he focuses on building a new 21st century immigration system that meets our nationís economic and security needs, the President has a responsibility to enforce the existing laws in a smart and effective manner. This means making decisions that best focus the resources that Congress gives the Executive Branch to do this work. There are more than 10 million people who are in the U.S. illegally; itís clear that we canít deport such a large number. So the Administration has developed a strategy to make sure we use those resources in a way that puts public safety and national security first. If you were running a law enforcement agency anywhere in the world, you would target those who pose the greatest harm before those who do not. Our immigration enforcement work is focused the same way.
Under the Presidentís direction, for the first time ever the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. And they have succeeded; in 2010 DHS removed 79,000 more people who had been convicted of a crime compared to 2008. Today, they announced that they are strengthening their ability to target criminals even further by making sure they are not focusing our resources on deporting people who are low priorities for deportation. This includes individuals such as young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home. It also includes individuals such as military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel. It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes.
So DHS, along with the Department of Justice, will be reviewing the current deportation caseload to clear out low-priority cases on a case-by-case basis and make more room to deport people who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk. And they will take steps to keep low-priority cases out of the deportation pipeline in the first place. They will be applying common sense guidelines to make these decisions, like a personís ties and contributions to the community, their family relationships and military service record. In the end, this means more immigration enforcement pressure where it counts the most, and less where it doesnít Ė thatís the smartest way to follow the law while we stay focused on working with the Congress to fix it.Cecilia MuŮoz is White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
I'm confident that this is little more than lip service, and that it will remain business as usual for the Obama adminsitration's deportation machine. Hopefully I'm wrong.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).