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Obama Administration Eases US Deportation Policies

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 08:15 PM

 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government will review its deportation caseload to keep low-priority cases from resulting in removal, the White House announcedThursday.

Democratic congressional leaders praised the move and said it would ease the way for individuals who came to the United States illegally as children and have already spent years in the country to stay and work legally.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano detailed the changes, on behalf of President Barack Obama, in a letter to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, a long-time sponsor of immigration reform.

"Together with the Department of Justice, we have initiated an interagency working group to execute a case-by-case review of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure that they constitute our highest priorities," wrote Napolitano. New cases placed in removal proceedings will get similar treatment, she said.

Homeland Security Department will begin reviewing all 300,000 backlogged deportation cases, according to Durbin's office.

Durbin is the chief sponsor of the recently introduced DREAM Act, which would pave a path to legal status and eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, lived in the country for at least five years, and completed two years of college or military service, among other requirements.

In a statement Thursday, Durbin said if fully implemented, "the new process should stop virtually all DREAM Act deportations."

The new process will consider such "positive factors" as student status among criteria for identifying low-priority cases.

But Napolitano's letter said: "It will not provide categorical relief for any group. Thus, this process will not alleviate the need for passage of the DREAM Act or for larger reforms to our immigration laws."

Republicans have said the DREAM Act would amount to amnesty for illegal immigrants and criticized the idea that the administration should implement similar policies on its own.

"Every amnesty encourages more illegal immigration, costs taxpayers who pay for government benefits, and displaces American workers," Republican Representative Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said of the DREAM Act.

Under Obama, the United States has deported more than 1.4 million people for immigration violations. (Editing by Jerry Norton and Mohammad Zargham)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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