The Obama administration has announced a new process to review all 300,000 active deportation cases to ensure that they are consistent with the nation’s enforcement priorities. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice will form a working group that will consider deportations on a case-by-case basis and focus its resources and efforts on high priority targets — individuals who pose a threat to public safety and national security or repeat immigration law violators. And while the review won’t explicitly offer categorical relief for any single group — like bi-national same-sex couples, children who were brought to America at a young age, pregnant women, military veterans — the process could provide greater protection for these populations. LGBT families and same-sex couples will be considered as families and could benefit from the discretion of the working group.
In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explains that the case-by-case approach was first detailed in March 2010 and recently reiterated in a memorandum from June, 2011. She argues that the process will enhance public safety and allow immigration judges “to more swiftly adjudicate high priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.” “This process will also allow additional federal enforcement resources to be focused on border security and the removal of public safety threats,” she argues.
The new process is a result of a long-standing administration policy to ensure that the nation is “not clogging the system with folks who are not maximum priorities,” a senior administration official explained. Lower-priority deportation cases “are being set aside so we can focus more on our more serious cases of convicted criminals and other high priority categories.”
The senior administration official said that the process is designed “keep folks who are low priority cases out of the deportation process to begin with.” Those individuals in the existing caseload will also be eligible to apply for work authorization visas, but those determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.