HEADLINES: Immigration

Published On: Donate

A federal appeals court has put the Obama administration’s new immigration directive to the test by halting the deportation of seven immigrants alleged to be in the country illegally. In a 2-1 ruling on Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals demanded the Obama administration explain whether the immigrants can avoid deportation because of two memos released last year by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton urging prosecutors to use “discretion” when deciding whether to pursue immigration cases. Morton’s initial memo in June said prosecutors should take into account such factors as U.S. military service, criminal records, family ties and length of stay in the country when deciding whether to start formal deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants. He issued another in November explaining further how to implement the guidelines. Since then, though, immigration advocates and lawyers have been complaining that prosecutors have been too slow to call off deportation proceedings of immigrants meeting the criteria. The advocates view the appeals court’s rulings as a call to action. [Washington Post]

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday the creation of a new position that will work with non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups and immigrants to make sure their voices are heard. The new public advocate, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, has already worked as a liaison between immigrant rights groups and ICE, which has undergone some reforms under the Obama administration while also deporting a record number of undocumented immigrants. Few immigration advocates had negative things to say about their work with Lorenzen-Strait and were hopeful that his expanded role would help in getting their message to the administration.  “It’s almost premature to say whether this will lead to tangible results,” Brittney Nystrom, director of policy and legal affairs for the National Immigration Forum, said. In his new position, Lorenzen-Strait will talk to stakeholders in immigration and report their concerns back to ICE leadership, along with communicating deportation programs and initiatives with advocates. [Huffington Post]

The state House of Representatives on Wednesday once again voted to pass a bill that would repeal the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to get New Mexico driver’s licenses. The bill, strongly supported by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez but labeled a wedge issue by some Democratic opponents, now goes to the Senate. The Senate last year heavily amended a similar House bill, effectively killing it, and many expect that to happen again. Following a nearly four hour debate, the House voted 45-25 to pass House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez, I-Hatch. Wednesday’s vote represented a larger margin of support for repeal in the House than last year. Three Democrats who voted against last year’s bill — Rep. Nick Salazar of Española, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra of Albuquerque and George Dodge of Santa Rosa — voted for HB 103. [Santa Fe New Mexican]

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