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Deportations: Shift In U.S. Policy

Immigration has recently shifted its enforcement policy from seeking and arresting aliens who have overstayed who entered the U.S. without a visa. Now Immigration will only be concentrating on catching and deporting immigrants who have been convicted of a serious crime or who represent a threat to our national security. This policy change has been necessary because the Immigration Courts have been overwhelmed by deportation cases. Arrested aliens have a right to a hearing in Immigration Court. Legitimate claims for permanent residence such as marriage to a U.S. citizen or an application by U.S. citizen parents or if an applicant has U.S. citizen children and the applicant has been here for more than 10 years and may entitle the applicant to Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status so there are many avenues for relief which could be used as a defense against deportation.

This change of emphasis reveals a clash between Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in charge of enforcement of Immigration Laws and the arrest of undocumented aliens, and the Immigration Courts that have to hear the cases of undocumented aliens. Because of the rigorous enforcement by ICE of any undocumented alien even in cases where there are defenses, the Courts have become incapable of keeping up. This backlog that resulted in some 247,000 back cases and the average waiting time for a case has grown to 457 days for a trial.

As a result of the total collapse of the Court system in Immigration practice, the Obama Administration has pushed forward a new policy. The two branches of the Immigration Service, ICE that enforces the law, and the Immigration Courts that interpret the law as to whether an alien is entitled to stay in the U.S. are in conflict.

The new policy intends to only catch and deport aliens who have committed serious crimes or who are security risks. Aliens who have a basis to stay here through U.S. citizen spouses or U.S. parents or U.S. children, where the applicants have been here for more than 10 years, may now not be arrested and brought before the Immigration Court essentially avoiding a strain on the Immigration system, and thereby promoting the efficient use of our government’s resources.

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