HEADLINES: Immigration

Published On: Donate

Prosecutors have completed a lightning review ordered by the Obama administration of virtually all 7,900 deportation cases before the immigration court, identifying more than 1,000 foreigners who pose no security risk and allowing them to remain in the United States. In a test run of the first comprehensive docket review ever undertaken in the nation’s immigration courts, 16 prosecutors, laboring long days and weekends since Dec. 5, read through looming stacks of paper files to meet a mid-January deadline laid down by Washington. 16 percent of all those facing deportation in Denver — 1,301 immigrants — will receive offers from prosecutors to close their cases. After ironing out kinks in pilot projects in Denver and in Baltimore, Department of Homeland Security officials plan to extend the review in coming months to all of about 300,000 cases before the country’s immigration courts. However, many will be left in an indefinite limbo where they cannot work or obtain driver’s licenses and may struggle to subsist, lawyers said. The immigration court review is part of a broad effort by the administration, as President Obama heads into his re-election campaign, to ease the impact of enforcement on immigrant and Latino communities by stopping some deportations while also reducing huge backlogs swamping the courts. [NYTimes]

Federal inaction on comprehensive immigration reform has forced the issue on state and local leaders, but Arizona-style approaches are not the solution, a group of mayors was told Wednesday. Local immigration laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 are a step in the wrong direction, said Angela Maria Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy for the Center for American Progress. “As elected leaders, I implore you to stop the efforts of anti-immigrant bills,” Kelley told about 15 mayors at an immigration reform session at the U.S. Conference of Mayors convention. “It will not solve the problem of illegal immigration in your states.” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who participated in the immigration session, both said Arizona faced unwanted scrutiny and economic harm because of SB 1070, the state’s sweeping 2010 illegal immigration law. [Tuscon Sentinel]

The U.S. Border Patrol is moving to halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any punishment. The agency this month is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico. Years of enormous growth at the federal agency in terms of staff and technology have helped drive down apprehensions of migrants to 40-year lows. The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches from Texas to San Diego. The “Consequence Delivery System” divides border crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to people with criminal records. Punishments vary by region but there is a common thread: simply turning people around after taking their fingerprints is the choice of last resort. Some, including children and the medically ill, will still get a free pass by being turned around at the nearest border crossing, but they will be few and far between. Consequences can be severe for detained migrants and expensive to American taxpayers, including felony prosecution or being taken to an unfamiliar border city hundreds of miles away to be sent back to Mexico. One tool used during summers in Arizona involves flying migrants to Mexico City, where they get one-way bus tickets to their hometowns. Another releases them to Mexican authorities for prosecution south of the border. One puts them on buses to return to Mexico in another border city that may be hundreds of miles away. [Huffington Post]

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