Some of the nation's immigration courtrooms are empty while prosecutors examine files and look into the residency and criminal history related to immigrant deportation cases.
Immigration review processes are currently being held in Baltimore and Denver, as a trial of a new program that could have implications throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the entire country. The controversial program is designed to reduce the backlog of undocumented immigrant deportation cases. In Denver, there are near 7,800 pending deportation cases. Baltimore has roughly 5,000.
Officials are choosing to focus court proceedings on immigrant detainees who they believe may pose a threat to national security, and those who possess a criminal background. Prosecutors are currently attempting to sift through cases in a short amount of time and determine which immigrants' deportation cases will be heard in the near future.
Once the reviews are completed, any immigrants who do not pose a criminal threat will reportedly have their cases labeled as low priority; these cases will then be put on hold indefinitely. Officials have not yet said how many cases could be put on low priority.
Officials may decide to expand the program to other U.S. cities after they examine the effects of the reviews in Baltimore and Denver. If the program is expanded, more than 300,000 immigration cases could be reviewed across the country.
Though some immigrants may be relieved if they are granted prosecutorial discretion - and allowed to remain in the U.S., perhaps indefinitely - it may still be wise to speak with an immigration defense attorney about their case and immigration status.
Source: Huffington Post, "Immigration Courtrooms Sit Silent During ICE Review," P. Solomon Banda, Jan. 17, 2012