Obama Issues Significant Changes to Deportation Policy

On August 18, 2011, the Obama administration announced significant and substantive changes concerning deportation policy. The U.S. government will immediately review the deportation of undocumented immigrants that do not have criminal records or pose a security risk to the United States on a case-by-case basis. The administration estimates that as many as 300,000 immigrants will qualify. Immigrants who would benefit from the Dream Act (including those who entered the country illegally) are prime candidates for the Obama administration reform. These individuals may be eligible to obtain authorization to work, obtain driver’s licenses and social security cards. The administration emphasized that the factors determining who may qualify are in part outlined in Director John Morton’s Memorandum of June 17, 2011.

It is important to recognize that this action is not full fledged immigration reform but it is an interim step to allow non-criminal undocumented immigrants the opportunity to obtain work authorization while awaiting further legislative changes. The biggest impact is for those currently in deportation proceedings. The Obama Administration has established a panel to review more than 300,000 pending deportation cases on a case-by-case basis. This historic change, long overdue, allows DHS to use its scarce resources where they belong, focusing on deporting serious criminals and security threats. In a recent Memorandum the Agency outlined some of the criteria that will be used to determine qualification including but not limited to:

  • the agency’s civil immigration enforcement priorities;
  • the immigrant’s length of presence in the Untied States, with particular consideration given to the presence while in lawful status;
  • the circumstances of the immigrant’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;
  • the immigrant’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
  • whether the immigrant, or the immigrant’s immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in the combat;
  • the immigrant’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
  • the person’s immigration history, including any prior removal, outstanding order of removal, prior denial of status, or evidence of fraud;
  • whether the immigrant poses a national security or public safety concern;
  • the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
  • the immigrant’s ties to the home country and conditions in the country;
  • the immigrant’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
  • whether the immigrant has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child or parent;
  • whether the immigrant is the primary caretaker of a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative;
  • whether the immigrant or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing;
  • whether the immigrant or the immigrant’s spouse suffers from severe mental or physical illness;
  • whether the immigrant is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S. Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others.

Every undocumented or “illegal” immigrant in the United States should seek the advice of a qualified and experienced immigration attorney to evaluate their case under this new policy to determine if they are a candidate for the reform. If you or a friend or family member may benefit from the new immigration policies contact the experienced immigration attorneys at Colombo & Hurd, PL. Call today (800) 549-5523.