First Reprieves Granted in New Deportation Policy

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011 04:20 PM

By Andra Varin

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Federal officials say they are working quickly to drop deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who are not considered to be a threat so authorities can concentrate on throwing out criminals and gang members.

One of the first beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s controversial new policy is Manuel Guerra, 27, an illegal immigrant from Mexico living in Florida. Guerra’s lawyer learned Thursday — the very same day the policy change was announced — that the government was dropping plans to deport him, The New York Times reported.

The news “was like something from above, from heaven. I don’t want to go back to Mexico,” Guerra told the Times, “and I’ve been fighting this for five years.”

Guerra said he came to the United States to escape a violent gang in Mexico and now wants to study to become a Roman Catholic priest.

Federal officials are looking at each case individually but said they want to concentrate on ending proceedings against illegal immigrants with no criminal records who came to the United States as young children, those who are married to U.S. citizens, and close family members of those serving in the U.S. military.

Another of the first reprieves went to Sujey Pando, a lesbian from Mexico legally married in Iowa to an American from Colorado, Violeta Pando. Federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages, but the government said same-sex spouses would be considered family of American citizens for purposes of the deportation reviews.

Immigrant advocates have hailed the new policy, but Republican leaders have panned it. New York Rep. Peter King,, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called it “a blatant attempt to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal aliens in this country.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also castigated the plan, telling Newsmax in an exclusive interview: “The Obama administration cannot get its amnesty schemes through Congress, so now it has resorted to implementing its plans via executive fiat. We need to remind President Obama that we elected a president that serves beneath the law and did not anoint a king that is above the law.”

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