As others have already explained, no one can tell who, if anyone, will be protected from deportation under the new ICE guidelines for prosecutorial discretion. The best that can be said is that these vague and non-binding guidelines are probably better than nothing. Perhaps many people will be protected from deportation, though I doubt this; more likely only a lucky few will be protected.
Most likely, as many believe, the new guidlines may be nothing more than a pre-election sop to keep the Latino and Asian communities in line for president Obama. On the other hand, maybe they will be taken seriously and help to protect a significant number of people against injustice and family breakup. No one knows, probably not even ICE itself.
One thing is sure, however. No one can rely on the guidelines as ironclad protection against being deported. ICE has made this quite clear, as do the guidelines themselves. Then what can offer more reliable assurance that there will be a turning point away from this administration's policy of mass deportations? Only one thing: the growing political power of Latino, Asian and other minority American voters.
Only by speaking out, organizing, voting (in the case of American citizens, of course) and using their growing economic power can people in immigrant communities overcome the hatred, prejudice and discrimination which are the driving forces behind the current federal deportation mania and the draconian anti-immigrant laws in states such as Arizona, Alabama and Georgia, which have become citadels of bigotry.
All of these anti-immigrant policies and measures are fundamentally political and only superficially concerned with legal issues. If people who belong to immigrant communities neglect to use their political and economic power, they will not be able to rely on any vague and essentially meaningless ICE memos for protection.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.