Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deportation Cases of Illegal Immigrants to Be Reviewed - NYTimes.com

Deportation Cases of Illegal Immigrants to Be Reviewed - NYTimes.com

The accelerated triage of the court docket — about 300,000 cases — is intended to allow severely overburdened immigration judges to focus on deporting foreigners who committed serious crimes or pose national security risks, Homeland Security officials said. Taken together, the review and the training, which will instruct immigration agents on closing deportations that fall outside the department’s priorities, are designed to bring sweeping changes to the immigration courts and to enforcement strategies of field agents nationwide.

The policy, described in a June 17 memorandum by John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, suggested that the Obama administration would scale back deportations of illegal immigrants who were young students, military service members, elderly people or close family of American citizens, among others. While the announcement raised excited expectations in Latino and other immigrant communities, until now the policy has been applied spottily, deepening disillusionment with President Obama in those communities.

Administration officials have flexibility to transform immigration court procedures because those courts are part of the Justice Department in the executive branch, not part of the federal judiciary. Central to the plan is giving more power to immigration agency lawyers — the equivalent of prosecutors in the federal court system — to decide which deportation cases to press.

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