The Obama administration said yesterday that they will indefinitely delay deporting many illegal immigrants who don't have criminal records and will offer them a chance to apply for a work permit. Deportation efforts will instead focus on convicted criminals and those who might be a national security or public safety threat.
The policy change will mean a case-by-case review of approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants facing possible deportation in federal immigration courts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said....
"...From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities," Napolitano wrote a group of senators involved in supporting immigration legislation. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.
"Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission -- clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from the individuals who pose a threat to public safety."
The New York Times says that the new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.:
Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.
The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes.”
Directives given to agents will give authorities the chance to keep some cases from even reaching the court system.
The message to agents in the field, the official said, would be "you do not need to put everyone you come across in the system...."
...In June, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent a memo to agents outlining when and how they could use discretion in immigration cases. That guidance also covered
The memo from John Morton also suggested that agents consider how long someone has been in the United State, whether that person's spouse or children are U.S. citizens and whether or not that person has a criminal record.
A senior administration official said delaying deportation decisions in cases for some noncriminals would allow the quicker deportation of serious criminals. The indefinite stay will not give illegal immigrants a path to legal permanent residency, but will let them apply for a work permit.
While this is in no way the Dream Act, this change in policy does responds to the concerns of many Episcopal congregations and others who will be praying in September in observance Dream Sabbath.