All current deportation cases to be reviewed

300,000 cases currently in deportation proceedings will be reviewed by DHS

WASHINGTON, DC - Today the Department of Homeland Security issued a letter to Congress announcing that all 300,000 cases currently in deportation proceedings will be reviewed by DHS, one-by-one, in an effort to focus purely on “high-priority” cases of criminals and individuals who pose a serious threat to the US.

Cases deemed “low-priority” as children, military families, individuals brought here at a young age, same-sex couples, and sole-bread winners will be completely removed from the case log y non-criminal immigrants once facing deportation, will have the possibility to obtain work permits.

The Center for American Progress released this statement, “We applaud the Department of Homeland Security for taking this welcome and important step toward aligning our immigration enforcement practices with our nation's values and priorities. By focusing our enforcement resources on those who pose threats to our communities, rather than on immigrants who have committed no crimes, these guidelines will make our communities safer, save taxpayer dollars, and uphold our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

This initiative represents another step in the ongoing process of making our immigration enforcement regime more effective and coherent by building on the prosecutorial discretion memo issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton on June 17, which clearly articulated the agency’s enforcement priorities.

The initiative launched today takes a giant step forward operationalizing the guidelines laid out in the Morton memo and extending their application throughout the entire immigration system. This unprecedented cross-agency effort, including the Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Citizenship and Immigration Services, will standardize removal and enforcement practices to ensure that resources are deployed effectively across the system.

As Angela Kelley, Vice President of Immigration Policy and Advocacy, notes: "Prioritizing resources and allowing prosecutors the discretion to decide which cases to pursue is law enforcement 101, a basic part of any police effort, and we applaud the administration for bringing this discretion to all facets of the immigration system.”

These guidelines do not constitute a lessening of enforcement but in fact a strengthening of it by allowing DHS and DOJ to stop wasting taxpayer resources on people who pose no threat to the public’s safety like hard-working parents, DREAMers brought to this country at a young age through no fault of their own, and same-sex couples simply because of their sexual orientation.

We believe that these new guidelines are a significant advancement in creating a smarter and more efficient enforcement system. But as Kelley noted, "We will be watching to make sure that the policy in practice is the same as the policy on paper and that the administration ensures the guidelines are implemented clearly and completely across all immigration agencies."

And though this initiative should go far in making immigration enforcement smarter, more efficient, and more humane, it is obviously not a solution to what ails our immigration system. We hope that Republicans and Democrats will be able to come together to make comprehensive reform a reality, but given the current state of Republican opposition to anything but costly, heavy-handed enforcement, the best interests of the American people may have to wait.

Raúl Arce-Contreras, Center For American Progress

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February 23, 2018, 2:14 am
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