Homeland Security Announces End to Deportation of Low-Priority Cases

Immigrants applaud decision as humane and rational approach to enforcement

Thursday, August 18, 2011. BOSTON — Immigrant advocates and other community agencies learned today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a letter to 23 U.S. Senators, including Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, responding to their request for a review of immigration deportation policy. In the letter, DHS announced that they are joining with the Department of Justice to make a case by case review of 300,000 people currently in the deportation pipeline, and they will subsequently remove "low priority" cases from deportation. This will bring DHS' immigration enforcement in line with a memo about prosecutorial discretion issued on June 17 by John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In the memo, ICE recognizes that deportation efforts should take into consideration questions such as "the circumstances of the person's arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child." Though the White House declined to promise "categorical relief," this action seems to fulfill the demands of the Change Takes Courage campaign to provide relief to families with mixed status, workers with long histories in the U.S, students who would be eligible for the DREAM Act, military veterans, and others without criminal records or evidence of recent repeat immigration violations.

"We commend President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, and ICE Director  Morton for taking this humane and rational approach to immigration enforcement," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). "The president has spoken repeatedly about the importance of immigration reform, and finally his actions are matching his words, creating the change that so many new American voters and others hoped he would make when they gave him their unprecedented support in 2008. Now we can concentrate on deporting drug dealers and dangerous criminals, and not on destroying hard working families or shattering the dreams of innocent children. It's up to Congress to bring this effort full circle by embarking on the fundamental immigration reforms that would strengthen our fragile economy, rationalize our dysfunctional policies, and allow America to fully live up to its ideals of fairness and decency."