U.S. weighs curbing deportations

Policy change could limit removals of people who have little or no criminal record but have committed repeat immigration violations
Associated Press
Apr 22, 2014

Tens of thousands of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but don't have serious criminal records could be shielded from deportation under a policy change being weighed by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The change, if adopted following a review ordered by President Barack Obama, could limit removals of people who have little or no criminal record but have committed repeat immigration violations such as re-entering the country illegally after having been deported, or failing to comply with a deportation order.

The possible move, confirmed by two people with knowledge of the review, would fall short of the sweeping changes sought by activists. They want Obama to expand a two-year-old program that grants work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as children to include other groups, such as the parents of any children born in the U.S.

John Sandweg, who until February served as acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he had promoted the policy change for immigrants without serious criminal records before his departure and said it was being weighed by Johnson. An immigration advocate who has discussed the review with the administration also confirmed the change was under consideration. The advocate spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

"Any report of specific considerations at this time would be premature," Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said Monday. Stevens said Johnson "has undergone a very rigorous and inclusive process to best inform the review," including seeking input from people within DHS as well as lawmakers of both parties and other stakeholders.

The approach outlined by Sandweg and the immigration advocate would change the existing priority categories that now include immigrants who have re-entered the country after having been deported previously, and those who are fugitives from immigration proceedings. Such people would be taken off the priority list.

The remaining priority categories focus on recent border-crossers and immigrants who pose a danger to national security or public safety or who have been convicted of crimes. Some of those categories might also be refined or changed, and others could be added.

"The time had come to focus ICE's efforts exclusively on public safety and national security," Sandweg said in explaining why he pushed for the change. He estimated that some 20,000 deported immigrants fell into the categories in question last year.

The potential changes come as Johnson proceeds with a review ordered by Obama on how to make deportation policy more humane. With comprehensive immigration legislation stalled in the Republican-led House after passing the Senate last year, Obama has come under intense election-year pressure to stem deportations, which have neared 2 million on his watch, and allow more of the 11.5 million immigrants living here illegally to stay.

Many activists want sweeping action by Obama to give legal certainty and work permits to millions more immigrants, like he did for those who arrived illegally as children and attended school or served in the military.

It's not clear whether the administration ultimately will take such steps. Obama has said repeatedly his options are limited without action by Congress.

"The only way to truly fix it is through congressional action. We have already tried to take as many administrative steps as we could," Obama said last week at a news conference. "We're going to review it one more time to see if there's more that we can do."

For now, administration officials appear focused on more limited, near-term steps that could still make a difference for the immigrant population, according to lawmakers and activists who've met with administration officials.

Adjusting the department's priorities for deportation is one such approach. Depending on how it's done, it could have a significant impact by providing new guidance to ICE agents on the front lines. Activists want more wholesale changes; some say ICE agents don't always follow the priorities set by the administration.

At the same time, Obama would likely face GOP wrath for taking even the smallest steps toward providing relief to people in this country illegally. Republicans already accuse Obama's administration of subverting the law through previous moves to give "prosecutorial discretion" to immigration agents.

Comments

huronguy2

Mammamia I am so curious how you know "most illegals pay their own hospital or emergency bills" just very curious, I bet they told you that huh? Your post is ridiculous and inconsistent. Illegal is illegal deport deport deport. Resource suckers!

mammamia

When the bills come in they bring them to me. IF the hospital has a program to reduce bills based on income, I help them apply. These programs are usually available to anyone based on low income (they have to turn in pay stubs for proof) and might reduce the bill as much as 30% but some facilities do NOT offer them to undocumented people. In that case I help them set up a payment plan.

You're right, illegal is illegal. We're all entitled to our opinions and tolerance thresholds. For me, if their entry is the only illegal act I can live with it; I understand others can't.

dorothy gale

What happened in the past is just that --- past. This country now has laws. As an American citizen, if I am caught doing something ILLEGAL I will be punished. Immigration is not the problem; ILLEGAL immigration is. People in this country illegally, if caught, should be punished accirding to the laws of the land.

Darwin's choice

Correct Dorothy! The current administration needs the votes from these "illegals", thats the only plausible explanation! Why isn't obama's puppet, holder, enforcing the law? Because he's a criminal? Last week, the government went full "idiot" on a man who was accused of tresspassing with his cattle! Full riot gear minions with automatic weapons, yet these same enforcers do nothing to law breaking illegal aliens!! Makes you wonder.....democrats....!

The Big Dog's back

durwood, Obama isn't running for office anymore.

Darwin's choice

The elections this fall are going to be extremely painful for you dog!

grumpy

Piddle Puppy, obama needs the Senate to stay dim, and the House to go back to dim, to be able to get his agenda though. The Hose will stay repube and the Senate we will see in November, as it looks like a toss up. That is where obama needs votes... in Congress, which is quite a stretch... especially in the House... the Senate as I said is a toss up. Understand now piddles? Or do you need it spoon fed? Or perhaps left in the cat's box?

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