The Obama administration on Thursday started a review of all incoming — and some pending — deportation cases, the Department of Homeland Security said.
DHS in August announced that it would review deportations on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing the deportation of criminals over other illegal immigrants. On December 4, the Justice Department and DHS will launch a six-week pilot program in two jurisdictions to test run the process of reviewing cases currently pending in court, the department said in a statement.
The focus on criminals and “egregious immigration law violators” is an effort to “address the challenges of an over-crowded immigration court system, and better utilize existing resources,” DHS public affairs officer Gillian Christensen told TPM in a statement.
As TPM reported in October, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported more immigrants in fiscal year 2011 than in any other year in history. The Justice Department is currently in a standoff with Alabama’s severe immigration law, the Washington Post reports. Earlier this month, DOJ sent Alabama a letter reminding the state that, no, it can’t discriminate against school children.
Here’s the DOJ’s full statement on Thursday’s announcement:
“Through smart and effective immigration enforcement, this Administration remains committed to prioritizing immigration enforcement resources to target criminal aliens and those who put public safety at risk, as well as those who threaten border security or the integrity of the immigration system. To address the challenge of an over-crowded immigration court system, and better utilize existing resources, there is an on-going Administration-wide effort to focus immigration enforcement resources on those convicted of crimes, recent border crossers, and egregious immigration law violators. To further these efforts, the Administration is considering, on a case-by-case basis, whether to pursue certain cases that fall outside these priorities, as pursuit of such cases diverts resources from our enforcement priorities and strains the limited resources of immigration courts.
As part of these efforts, beginning today, ICE attorneys will review all incoming and certain pending cases to ensure they conform with ICE’s civil immigration enforcement priorities. Beginning December 4, DHS and DOJ will launch a six-week pilot program in two jurisdictions to test run the process for reviewing cases currently pending in immigration court. This review of incoming and pending cases will be based on the June 17th Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum and guided by a set of more focused criteria. In support of these efforts, ICE has also launched a comprehensive training program on the appropriate use of the June 17th Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum.”
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com