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via @NIJC: What @BarackObama’s Newest Prosecutorial Discretion Initiative Means for Immigrant Families

August 25, 2011

Written by Tara Tidwell Cullen  and reposted from the NIJC blog:

The Obama administration’s newest prosecutorial discretion initiative will provide some relief to a fraction of the thousands of men and women currently facing deportation from the United States. But it also will leave many immigrant families in limbo and fails to offer serious long-term solutions to a severely flawed immigration system.

“The Obama administration has finally acknowledged that it has the authority to provide some relief to families who are suffering as a result of Congress’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But it can do much more,” said Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy in a statement responding to the new initiative.“Time is running out for the Obama administration to work on meaningful immigration reform and end harsh and unfair enforcement practices that tear apart families.”

Below is a breakdown of how the prosecutorial discretion review process is expected to work, and what it means for immigrants and their families:

What DHS is doing: A Working Group comprised of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice officials is reviewing the cases of the 300,000 people currently in removal proceedings. This working group has set criteria to identify “low priority” cases and will advise local ICE attorneys to “administratively close,” not terminate, those proceedings. This means that in the future, DHS could reinstitute deportation proceedings against individuals granted prosecutorial discretion, should the agency’s priorities change.Criteria: The criteria to identify low priority cases are based on a memo released by DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton in June 2011. In the memo, the types of individuals eligible for prosecutorial discretion include minors brought to the United States at a young age, nursing women, persons with serious disabilities or health problems, individuals with strong community and family ties, victims of crime, etc. These criteria will be weighed against individuals’ criminal and immigration histories. Significantly, DHS has indicated that same-sex marriages will be considered “family ties” when assessing an individual’s eligibility for prosecutorial discretion.

Work Authorization: Prosecutorial discretion does not automatically entitle individuals to work authorization. Some men and women who receive a reprieve as a result of the new initiative will be able to apply for work authorization, but the administration has made no promises regarding who will be eligible.

What it means for people in deportation proceedings: Individuals currently in immigration proceedings MUST continue to attend court hearings and must comply with all court orders until they receive notice from DHS about the future of their cases.

What it means for immigrants not in deportation proceedings: The prosecutorial discretion initiative applies only to individuals already in deportation proceedings. The Obama administration has not provided any guidelines for how it will treat men and women who are placed in proceedings in the future.

How the initiative will affect deportation and detention rates: The Obama administration says that this prosecutorial discretion process will not reduce the number of people in deportation proceedings or detention, but will shift the makeup of that population to include only “serious criminal offenders.” NIJC has significant concerns about the administration’s interpretation of what constitutes a “serious criminal offender,” particularly as immigration enforcement programs just as Secure Communities continue to detain men and women arrested as a result of traffic stops or other low-level crimes.

Secure Communities: The new initiative does not impact the government’s roll-out of the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program. Every time an individual is picked up for any criminal offense, however minor, his or her fingerprints will continue to be shared with DHS.

People who have questions about how the new prosecutorial discretion initiative will affect their immigration cases should consult with qualified immigration attorneys or legal aid organizations.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2014 4:18 pm

    We should not forget America build by Immigrants and refugees, we need to be compassionate rather complain and point finger on immigrants and illegal alien they are paing taxes and they are the back bone for our countries. Please let us leave in peace, we need mor people here in American for our protection.

  2. August 25, 2011 5:54 pm

    This reminds me of the rallying cray in 1995 of “split the bill” separating “criminals” from “noncriminals.” But this is even worse because no one is even getting Status. They’re just getting, at best, a reprieve. This seems to be merely a cynical ploy to say that this administration does care about immigrants but is “tough on crime.”

    Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion throw from the table from someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” I want all immigrants to have a full menu of rights, not mere crumbs of compassion or temporary stays of removal without any significant systemic improvement for the plight of immigrants.

  3. Christella Morales permalink
    August 25, 2011 5:29 pm

    Hopefully the hard core criminals will be the only ones deported, there are so many of the hard working families here trying to make a better life for their children that should be able to have the same opportunities as the wealthy families that come her from other countries and are treated much better for obvious reasons. I give the Obama administration credit for trying to work out such a problem and hope they do the right thing for these people!

  4. August 25, 2011 5:25 pm

    Precisely what type of Governor has Massachusetts got, who spends more time playing up to the illegal alien occupation of his state, then dealing with his jobless rate. Massachusetts doesn’t have the convenience of a hook-up to the ICE data bases, to query if foreign nationals are in this country lawfully. Liberal leaning Gov. Deval Patrick seems to have forgotten who is supposing to protecting–his residents. He has issued his own policy that criminal aliens or any illegal aliens in his state cannot be touched. He refused to implement the “Secure Communities” program to fingerprint criminal aliens. Instead he now has this road mayhem, when an illegal alien who allegedly (of course we must be politically correct, as directed by the Leftist zealots) killed a 23-year-old Massachusetts man in a hit-and-run accident Saturday. This is not an isolated incident as DUI (Drunk while intoxicated), hit and runs seems to be wide-spread across the country. Americans must throw out the entire pro-illegal alien activist Governors, Mayors, police chiefs and city Supervisors.

    Nicolas D. Guaman, 34, of Milford, Mass, was arrested Saturday after his vehicle struck Matthew J. Denice, who was on a motorcycle, as reported by police. Guaman’s pickup truck had purportedly dragged Denice’s body a quarter-mile, the media reports. As always opponents of the “Secure Communities” program like to paint a mainly sympathetic picture of the criminals as “victims” in any kind of immigration enforcement cause. Same situation goes for E-Verify that would reduce illegal aliens, by rejecting them from jobs, which should be flowing to citizens and permanent resident. This is why unlike the Liberal extremists Democrats and even the Republican establishment core, have failed the American people dismally or intentionally in not enforcing laws already on the books. If you want to be on the ground-floor of the bloodbath that is an everyday occurrence in our nation you will find it at” American Patrol”, website. You can read the less visible news reports, that the Liberal oriented press doesn’t want you to view.

    Only Alabama, Georgia and Arizona so far have had the guts to stand against the Dept of In-Justice; as we speak being taken to the judicial wall, to protect their states from the fiscal responsibility of unfunded mandates for supporting the illegal alien incursions. Americans must look for a presidential candidate, who has a exemplary grade on immigration and Rick Perry has a very poor record, as he is part of the Republican establishment. Go to “NumbersUSA” for the immigration grades of potential hopefuls?

    Other areas of expertise on illegal alien statistics can be found at “NumbersUSA & the Federation of American Immigration Reform.” Another web site to be learn about the corruption in Washington D.C. and other states is “Judicial Watch” They are the opposite end of the spectrum of the communist inspired ACLU. Guaman’s first encounter with the law, was never reported to ICE, as the state is sympathetic to illegal aliens, especially Governor Patrick. On Guaman’s record are several previous citations for driving without a license and was charged in 2008 with breaking and entering and assaulting a cop in connection with a home invasion, and served probation but remained free. Served Probation? How come he wasn’t handed over to ICE and deported, which would have saved the life of Mr. Denice. This is what the Senate and House of Representative has handed us over thirty years, then trying to propose another mass amnesty. I don’t think so, nor does the TEA PARTY who is determined to stop any more Immigration Reform ideologies. No Sanctuary Cities or States like California, Nevada and Washington State. These States are under a tremendous financial strain, but the erratic Leftists will have none of it, overriding any sensible policies.

    Under a conservative TEA PARTY leadership there will be no dream Acts, No Sanctuary City ordinances, no more welfare or payments for using the 14th Amendment to get a foot-hold for a green card by conceiving a baby here intentionally. Only the TEA PARTY will strictly observe the founders words has set down in the U.S. Constitution. The only immigrants to be welcomed in our sovereign nation are the highly skilled, with academic credentials. Our jails and prison system is full of criminals, from different corners of the world and like the welfare programs, the food stamps, low income housing the taxpayer foots the bill. Last year, the expenditure for foreign nationals residing in the United States was 113 Billion dollars, but climbing nationwide. Currently, there is more credence in a population number of 20 million plus foreign nationals in this country, then the Liberal media and open border activist offering their under-count. California has the heftiest burden caused by the Liberals sitting in Sacramento, then they would not be adding another $21.Billion annually and then Carson City, Nevada $1Billion dollars annually. Consider furnishing your incoherent Representatives to eradicate this plague, that will not leave until the 1986 immigration law is rigorously enforced.
    The TEA PARTY doesn’t discriminate against any persons color or religion, as long their immigration status is lawful? JOHN THE TEA PARTY TO SAVE AMERICA FROM THE LEFTIST EXTREMIST TAKEOVER.


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  5. August 25, 2011 5:13 pm

    Thank you for providing this clarification. Deportation often very negatively affects families, but living in limbo is not easy either.

    It really is incumbent upon Congress to pass comprehensive legislative reform, and to play their part in this process. I certainly hope Congress doesn’t see this as way out.

  6. August 25, 2011 5:12 pm

    Recognizing you can’t deport 11 million undocumented immigranta plus an large number of LPRs with non-violent charges, should cause reasonable officials, politicians and citizens to to conclude that you ultimately have to find a way to legalize these residents.

    Is it right and just to detain and deport assimilated people to whom you will soon be giving status? For this reason, DHS should immediately stop the arrest, detenton and deportation of non-violent immigrant residents. Please let them live anong us in peace.

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