Los Angeles so far leads in number of undocumented immigrants who won't be deported due to priority

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Los Angeles is leading the way with largest number of people who will not be deported because they’re not priority deportations.

L.A. County has a growing number of immigrants who might be spared possible deportation, but there’s a huge backlog of cases awaiting a court date.

With a record 400,000 deportations annually over the past two years, the Department of Homeland Security has been criticized for deporting many illegal immigrants who don’t have a serious criminal background.

In response, the “Morton Memo” was introduced last August. It outlined new criteria for federal agencies and the courts when determining whether or not an immigrant should be deported.

The results have been mixed: so far, only 1 percent of pending deportation cases nationwide have been cancelled under the new guidelines. In other words, lawyers say, immigrants who are a low priority in the system are still getting deported.

But locally, the trend is starting to look different. The latest federal data says the Los Angeles Immigration Court now leads the country with the largest number of deportation cases dismissed since last August — 534.

That number could rise: the court will continue to sort through a majority of more than 50,000 cases facing possible deportation over the next couple of months.

Correction: The original headline on this story said that L.A. led in the number of non-priority deportations, which was inaccurate; it leads in the number of documents who deportations aren't a priority and those will not be deported.

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