Obama’s announcement about Deportations



 On August 18, 2011, the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security announced the establishment of a high-level joint Department of Homeland Security/Department of Justice working group charged with ensuring that DHS and DOJ resources are focused on the highest immigration enforcement priorities, namely, national security, public safety, border security and the integrity of our immigration system. These announcements are seen as major changes to the deportation process. They are not, however, changes to the law or comprehensive immigration reform. In point of fact, they do not reform the law at all. These procedural changes may be a step in the right direction though.

This announcement is DHS’s attempt to “unclog” the deportation case log by removing “low-priority” cases in order to focus on individuals who pose serious dangers to our communities and our country. “High-priority” individuals include, but are not limited to, those who pose a serious threat to national security, are serious felons and repeat offenders, are known gang members, or have a record of repeated immigration violations. “Low-priority” individuals include, but are not limited to, veterans; long-time, lawful residents; DREAMers and others brought to the US as children; pregnant women; victims of domestic abuse and other serious crimes; and spouses, including LGBT spouses.

All 300,000 cases currently in deportation proceedings will be reviewed by senior DHS officials. Immigration judges and ICE trial attorneys will also be reviewing their cases on a daily and weekly basis to make sure that any case that goes forward is consistent with DHS enforcement priorities.

Individuals in deportation proceedings who are deemed “low-priority” will get a letter from DHS stating their case has been administratively “closed”. Those whose cases are closed can apply for a work permit program. Decisions about work permits will be made on a case-by-case basis. Undocumented immigrants not in deportation proceedings cannot seek work permits. Individuals should not attempt to be placed in deportation proceedings in order to apply for a work permit. If implemented properly, these individuals will not be placed into deportation proceedings in the future even if they are caught by immigration so long as this policy is in place.

Please keep in mind that the announcement does not change programs such as 287g and Secure Communities. This is not an “amnesty.” This is a procedural change in the implementation of DHS’s enforcement policies to target only those who pose serious threats to the US and those with long criminal records.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the new announcements from the Obama’s administration regarding deportations. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with an immigration case. 

Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes. 

Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet, P.C. handles immigration and deportation cases.  If you have any questions or concerns about your case or a case of a friend or family member, you can call me at (315) 474-2911 or 800-675-001, send me a fax at (315) 474-6015, or e-mail me at jperez@smithsovik.com.  My office is located at 250 South Clinton Street, Suite 600, Syracuse, New York13202. You will hear from me again in November.

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