DHS Review of Immigration Cases Expands to Half Dozen New Cities

Written by on March 30, 2012 in Enforcement, News Flash with 4 Comments

The Washington Post and Huffington Post are reporting that ICE’s ongoing review of existing deportation cases will expand to six new cities in the coming months. Initially launched in Baltimore and Denver in 2011, the initiative will soon expand to Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans and Orlando, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. The idea behind the initiative is to clear historic backlogs in the immigration courts by administratively closing cases that ICE considers to be low priority.

According to the Huffington Post:

The Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Justice Department, confirmed that reviews in [Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans, and Orlando] will take place from April 23 to May 4 and proceedings for all cases of non-detained immigrants will be suspended during that time. In the next three cities, proceedings will be partially suspended while reviews take place. New York City will come next, from May 7 to May 18, followed by San Francisco from June 4 to June 15, and then Los Angeles from July 9 to July 20.

According to information recently sent to members of Congress, DHS attorneys have thus far reviewed the cases of more than 165,000 immigrants with pending deportation cases. Of those, the government found more than 13,000 immigrants—or approximately 8%—to be eligible for a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion based on their lack of criminal record and the presence of positive factors, such as former military service and having U.S. citizen children. Excluding the roughly 23,000 immigrants being held in detention, many of whom have been convicted of crimes, the share of cases found eligible for prosecutorial discretion exceeds 9%. As we previously reported, however, immigrants who are offered “administrative closure” must complete a number of steps before their cases are officially suspended.

First, any immigrant found potentially eligible for prosecutorial discretion must pass a background check before the government’s offer becomes final. Second, even after passage of the background check, the parties must submit a motion to suspend deportation proceedings and receive approval from an immigration judge. Third, immigrants who are not represented by attorneys may not receive offers of prosecutorial discretion until they appear in person in immigration court. And finally, many immigrants with applications for relief—such as asylum—have reportedly declined offers to suspend proceedings because they would prefer to take their chances before an immigration judge.

Contrary to claims of some in Congress, the ongoing exercise of prosecutorial discretion does not amount to an “administrative amnesty.” Immigrants whose cases are temporarily suspended do not receive green cards or any other form of legal status that would allow them to work, sponsor family members in foreign countries, or eventually become U.S. citizens.

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  • 8% is far lower than I and others had hoped. In Philadelphia where I practice, DHS is applying the PD guidelines narrowly and review of negative decisions is so far very limited. I had a seemingly perfect candidate for PD (cancellation-eligible, no convictions, 4 USC kids, working taxpayer) denied with no explanation. I had another request denied based on a plainly erroneous allegation of fraud which I won’t have the opportunity to resolve with the judge. Also, DHS has backtracked on its initial promise of work permits, a big issue for those who do get admin closure. While the PD program does help the few who have been found eligible, in general it is a massive fail.

    As far as the 23,000 detained, I don’t see any reason to exclude them from the numbers or from eligibility for PD. Convicted criminals like my client Miguel Orellana should have the right to remain with their families in the US. Having been racially profiled and then pushed to plead to possession without criminal defense counsel or immigration advisals shouldn’t be a reason to deport someone who came here at age 9, has 2 USC kids and a USC fiancee, and faces kidnapping or death if returned to El Salvador. There are many similar cases among those 23,000, they deserve to have their stories told, too.

  • bebihussain

    What ICE is doing is wrong ..keeping hard working people from their family and love one. This can be very hard for an inmate and their family. And it can be very costly.. the rest of the family can loose everything they work for and lots of money and time. I am in this situation it is very difficult…My husband is very hard working and a good role model. We have a beautiful house and 3 car.. we both work hard and to think of loosing everything…because of some new law……they need to look for a better way to make money and people suffer…..

  • Charles kitu

    Whats the point to give them whatever relief if they cannot work or do anything?like..Immigrants whose cases are temporarily suspended do not receive green cards or any other form of legal status that would allow them to work, sponsor family members in foreign countries.It s as good as to deport them.