On Thursday, the White House sent out an announcement after meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus indicating that President Obama had asked the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to review current practices to see how “it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.”
For those who have followed immigration matters closely during the Obama administration, back in 2011, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton issued two memoranda asking officials to use prosecutorial discretion in regards to certain noncitizens. ICE was supposed to refrain from pursuing noncitizens with close ties to the U.S. such as those with citizen children or with military and educational ties to the country and those who may have been witnesses or victims in a crime.
But the deportations continued at a rapid pace, and it wasn’t until June 2012 that the deferred action for childhood arrivals program was announced which would prevent some undocumented young people from being deported.
“The first change would ease or stop deportations of foreigners who have no criminal convictions other than immigration violations. If approved, deportation efforts would chiefly target people who have been charged or convicted in court and pose a potential threat to public safety.
Thousands of people are deported every year who have overstayed their visas or entered the country illegally, including parents of children who are U.S. citizens, but who have broken no other laws.
Another change under consideration would scale back a controversial program known as Secure Communities. It allows immigration authorities to request that immigrants in the country illegally be held in local jails until they can be transferred to federal facilities for deportation.
The proposed change would limit those local detentions and focus only on people with criminal records.”
It is estimated that by next month, the Obama administration will have removed two million undocumented people from the U.S. Any change to ease pace of deportations would be welcome among activists, but similar announcements have been made previously.
Chris Newman, who is the legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told Politico this week, “Review can not be an excuse for delay. The president has the legal authority and moral obligation to change his deportation policy, and every day he waits will be a blemish on his legacy.”