DHS to Begin Review of Pending Deportation Cases

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today will begin its case-by-case review of some 300,000 pending deportation cases. It will also begin a nationwide training program for immigration agents and prosecuting attorneys. The goal, as described in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutorial discretion memo in June, is to expedite the deportation of serious criminals and stop deportations of undocumented immigrants who have no criminal record.

According to the memo, ICE employees have “prosecutorial discretion” when it comes to immigration enforcement. Among the factors they may consider when deciding a deportation case are whether the individual is a veteran or member of the U.S. armed forces; a long-time lawful permanent resident; a minor or elderly; an individual who has been present in the United States since childhood; a pregnant or nursing woman; a victim of domestic violence, trafficking, or other serious crimes; an individual with a serious mental or physical disability; and an individual with a serious health condition.

"Since DHS announced an emphasis on prosecutorial discretion across the agency in August, there has been an absence of clarity and guidance on its deportation prioritizations, which have so far been applied inconsistently and ineffectively," according to Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. Noorani called for careful monitoring of the implementation of these guidelines "to make sure that stated policy goals become operational and effective."