The Obama administration has announced that it will suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. Under the policy, immigration authorities will use powers of prosecutorial discretion in existing law to suspend the deportations of most immigrants who, although they have committed immigration violations, have not been convicted of crimes.
Officials stated that they will look to halt deportations of longtime residents who came to the United States illegally as children, or are close family of military service members, or are parents or spouses of American citizens.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said their goal is to quickly identify noncriminals of this profile which currently overburdened immigration court dockets and to close their cases. By clearing noncriminals high priority removals such as gang members, drug traffickers or foreigners who repeatedly return after being deported will be accelerated. Immigration courts can now require as long as 18 months between hearings.
The Obama administrations action will help many intended beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, a legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, sponsored the legislation and has long argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes.”
The announcement also had an immediate impact on a same-sex marriage case in Denver, where an immigration judge postponed the deportation of Sujey Pando, a lesbian from Mexico legally married in Iowa to an American from Colorado, Violeta Pando.
Federal law still does not recognize same-sex marriages, but administration officials said they would consider same-sex spouses as “family” in their review of deportation cases.
While it is unfortunate that the intransigent and dysfunctional Congress cannot agree to a modern and just immigration reform it in encouraging that the administration recognizes the moral and economic basis for progress in immigration policy.