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.