Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What does the DHS policy shift on deportation mean?

The Obama administration announced this afternoon that it will make further changes to the way deportation cases are handled, potentially sparing many "low priority" immigrants such as youths who arrived here as children and military families from deportation, and allowing some the opportunity to work legally.

From a new post on the White House blog from Cecilia Muñoz, the White House's director of intergovernmental affairs:

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 person’s ties and contributions to the community, their family relationships and military service record.


What does this translate to? The office of Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is sponsoring the latest version of the Dream Act, which would grant conditional legal status to qualifying undocumented students and military hopefuls, has put out this interpretation:
Today, in a letter to Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 21 other Senators, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Administration has established a new process for handling the deportation cases of DREAM Act students and other sympathetic individuals.

If fully implemented, the new process should stop virtually all DREAM Act deportations.

“The Obama Administration has made the right decision in changing the way they handle deportations of DREAM Act students,” Durbin said. “These students are the future doctors, lawyers, teachers and, maybe, Senators, who will make America stronger. We need to be doing all we can to keep these talented, dedicated, American students here, not wasting increasingly precious resources sending them away to countries they barely remember. The Administration’s new process is a fair and just way to deal with an important group of immigrant students and I will closely monitor DHS to ensure it is fully implemented.”


Homeland Security has yet to update its website with the news, but the Associated Press has a brief report explaining that the administration, "will indefinitely delay deporting many illegal immigrants who don't have criminal records and will offer them a chance to apply for a work permit."

More from the story:

The government will focus on sending back convicted criminals and those who might be a national security or public safety threat.

The policy change will mean a case-by-case review of approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants facing possible deportation in federal immigration courts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

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