Washington has announced that it will expand its program to review pending deportation cases in order to discover which ones involve immigrants with criminal records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already conducted reviews in two cities, including Baltimore, Maryland. Now ICE will perform the same task in four new cities around the country.
The review process covers cases of undocumented immigrants who are currently out of custody. While ICE conducts its review, the immigration courts in those cities will place their cases on hold. The review will also allow ICE to discern which immigrants slated for deportation lack criminal records. During the earlier review process that involved Baltimore and another city, the government decided to discontinue deportation proceedings in approximately 1,600 cases out of nearly 12,000.
The expansion of the case review process is a continuation of the government's averred policy to focus its deportation efforts on immigrants it believes may endanger the country's security and those who have committed prior crimes.
While the new policy has found support among some immigration advocates, others appear to say that it does not go far enough. And supporters of more stringent immigration laws have decried it as "backdoor amnesty."
Regardless of the political rhetoric, the case reviews will have a palpable effect on the lives of many undocumented immigrants. While the government's policy is intended to make it easier for some immigrants to become legalized, the immigration process as a whole remains complex. Those whose cases have been or are currently under review should know their rights and options as they seek legal status in the United States.
Source: FOXNews.com, "Immigration Courts on Hold in Four Cities Pending Review of Deportation Cases," Elizabeth Llorente, March 30, 2012.