On June 17, 2011, ICE published a memo on their interpretation of when they will use prosecutorial discretion to dismiss pending removal cases. ICE, a subset of the Department of Homeland Security, is aiming its resources on enhancing border security and identifying and
removing criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety and national security, repeat
immigration law violators and other individuals prioritized for removal.
In a letter from the current DHS Secretary to Congressman Dick Durbin published in August 2011, DHS Secretary writes, “President Obama has said on numerous occasions that to DHS it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases, such as individuals like those you reference in your letter, who were brought to this country as young children and know no other home. From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities.” DHS announced that it is organizing a work group with the Department of Justice (DOJ) which has oversight over the Immigration Courts, “to execute a case-by-case review of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure that they constitute our highest priorities. The working group will also initiate a case-by-case review to ensure that new cases placed in removal proceedings similarly meet such priorities.”
What does this mean for those currently in removal? Repeat immigration law violators will still have difficulty being released from immigration hold or having their cases dismissed from Immigration Court. Those who have one illegal entry as opposed to multiple entries, misrepresentations, or criminal convictions will likely not obtain prosecutorial discretion and dismissals of their cases. Further, there is going to be a lot of confusion about this policy, especially because DHS said they would consider issuing work permits on a case by case basis. Much like the guest worker program spoken of for years and years to no avail, the work permit option does not exist and may never. DHS confirms that the new policy does not give relief or benefits for anyone including any of those students that would be eligible under the Dream Act.
Attorney Heather L. Poole practices exclusively in the area of U.S. family-based immigration law and citizenship law. Heather is a nationally-published immigration author, frequent lecturer on immigration issues, and member & officer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Southern California Chapter. For more information about Heather and the services offered, visit www.humanrightsattorney.com
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