Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

For those spared deportation under new Obama plan, what happens next?

The promised reviews of deportation cases announced last August by the Obama administration launched last month with a pilot program in Denver and Baltimore, and the results are in: Of some 11,682 cases reviewed, according to The Associated Press, about 1,600 people who don't have criminal records and show deep ties to the U.S. will be allowed to stay. Plans are now to expand the program nationwide, with reviews of some 300,000 deportation cases expected.

For those who will get to stay, the decision is a life-changing one. But legally, the only thing that has happened is that their deportation has been stopped. Those who don't have legal status will remain without it. A story in the New York Times explains how it works:

After being chosen for discretion, an immigrant must pass background checks against federal criminal and national security databases. Then ICE prosecutors offer to file a joint motion with the immigrant to close the deportation case. If both sides agree, the approval of an immigration judge is relatively quick.

The deportation then becomes a "sleeping beauty," one ICE prosecutor said; it is closed and off the docket, but in theory it can be reopened at any time.

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