Sunday, August 28, 2011

White House Unveils New Immigration Policy

On Aug. 18, the White House unveiled a new immigration policy that suspends the deportation proceedings of many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The White House said immigration officials will exercise "prosecutorial discretion" to focus enforcement efforts on criminals and illegal immigrants who have blatantly violated immigration laws.

The new policy follows a June memorandum issued to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices by ICE Director John Morton that said agents should prioritize cases against illegal immigrants who have committed crimes or pose a threat to the United States. The memo was in response to pressure from states who said ICE was deporting more non-violent illegal aliens than criminal aliens.

"They will be applying common sense guidelines to make these decisions, like a person's ties and contributions to the community, their family relationships and military service record," said White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz on the White House blog. "In the end, this means more immigration enforcement pressure where it counts the most, and less where it doesn't - that's the smartest way to follow the law while we stay focused on working with Congress to fix it."

The new policy will allow prosecutors to focus on criminal aliens. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will review the current deportation caseload to dismiss low-priority cases on a case-by-case basis and move cases of those who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk to the top of the list.

In addition, Munoz said DHS and DOJ will work to keep low-priority cases out of the deportation process completely. According to estimates, approximately 300,000 deportation cases are current in proceedings with U.S. courts.