The National Domestic Workers Alliance has kicked off a letter writing campaign entitled "We Belong Together" with a goal of collecting 5,000 letters to be delivered to President Obama calling for the end to deportations so that all families can stay together.
Initiated in 2008, Secure Communities is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program designed to identify immigrants in U.S. jails who are deportable under immigration law. ICE plans to implement Secure Communities in every state and local jail across the country by 2013. However, there are a wide range of ongoing concerns with the program that have not been answered to date. This paper describes the Secure Communities program, identifies concerns about the program’s design and implementation, and makes recommendations for the future of the program.
In a briefing with Latino journalists last week, President Obama directly acknowledged that his administration’s immigration enforcement practices break up families and exclude parents from decisions about the custody of their children. His comments affirmed the central findings of a yearlong investigation by the Applied Research Center, which publishes Colorlines.com, released earlier this month. The investigation concludes that there are at least 5,100 children currently in foster care who are stuck there because their parents were detained or deported by immigration officials.
The president said parents should have access to their children if they are detained and that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security to examine its family unification practices to ensure that happens. The White House declined to comment today on the details of that examination or what policy changes it may produce.
The Department of Homeland Security will begin a review on Thursday of all deportation cases before the immigration courts and start a nationwide training program for enforcement agents and prosecuting lawyers, with the goal of speeding deportations of convicted criminals and halting those of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record.
The accelerated triage of the court docket — about 300,000 cases — is intended to allow severely overburdened immigration judges to focus on deporting foreigners who committed serious crimes or pose national security risks, Homeland Security officials said. Taken together, the review and the training, which will instruct immigration agents on closing deportations that fall outside the department’s priorities, are designed to bring sweeping changes to the immigration courts and to enforcement strategies of field agents nationwide.
According to a document obtained by The New York Times, Homeland Security officials will issue guidelines on Thursday to begin the training program and the first stages of the court caseload review. Both are efforts to put into practice a policy senior officials had announced in June, to encourage immigration agents to use prosecutorial discretion when deciding whether to pursue a deportation.
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In the first stage of the court docket review, which will begin on Thursday, immigration agency lawyers will examine all new cases just arriving in immigration courts nationwide, with an eye to closing cases that are low-priority according to the Morton memorandum, before they advance into the court system.
At the same time, immigrants identified as high priority will see their cases put onto an expedited calendar for judges to order their deportations, Homeland Security officials said.
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In a second stage, to begin Dec. 4, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will start six-week pilot projects in the immigration courts in Baltimore and Denver, in which teams of immigration agency lawyers will comb through the current dockets of those courts. They will focus on cases of immigrants who have been arrested for deportation, but who are not being held in detention while their cases proceed.
Immigrants who are deemed to qualify for prosecutorial discretion will have their cases closed, but not dismissed, officials said. That means that agents could re-open the deportations at any time if the immigrants commit a crime or a new immigration violation. Immigrants whose cases are closed will be allowed to remain in the United States, but they will be in legal limbo, without any positive immigration status.
The pilot projects will also end on Jan. 13, and then officials will decide how to expand the program to all immigration courts nationwide early next year.
Also on Thursday, Homeland Security officials will introduce a training program based on scenarios that could arise in enforcement operations, which every Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent must complete by mid-January. The goal is to instruct agents, many of whom have expressed doubts about Mr. Morton’s policy, to apply the prosecutorial discretion criteria.
The approach of deporting some illegal immigrants but not others requires a deep change in the mentality of the agents, who have long operated on the principle that any violation was good cause for deportation.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation created a great, new priority date calculator. With it, you can enter a country, preference category and priority date to see if you are eligible to adjust status yet. If not, you can receive monthly email alerts about your status or an email when you are eligible. It’s on a public website, so clients can also be referred to use it themselves. Click here to access the calculator.
Excellent opinion piece on the "illegal" vs. "undocumented/unauthorized" question by Austin attorney, Dan Kowalski.
Of course, I disagree with Rep. Jose Aliseda (R-Beeville) who thinks all unauthorized people should be called "illegal" whether they have been convicted of a crime or not. This is particularly troubling given his statement that:
As an attorney, I have been trained that words in the law have meaning and definitions. I have been licensed to practice in federal court for 23 years. I have represented, by court appointment, many people charged with illegally re-entering this country after deportation. In the United States Code, wherein this nation’s laws are codified, individuals who are here illegally are called “illegal aliens.”
As a lawyer who has represented individuals in illegal re-entry cases, Rep. Aliseda should know that everyone is presumed innocent prior to conviction.