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Presser by Immigration Advocates on Failure of DHS Deportation Policy Gets Extensive Media Coverage

by Mahwish Khan on 06/12/2012 at 11:17am

As we reported yesterday, immigration lawyers, community leaders, and advocates representing a broad spectrum of Latino and immigrant communities declared the Department of Homeland Security’s implementation of prosecutorial discretion a failure and asked the Obama Administration to take immediate action to protect families, DREAM Act eligible youth, and those standing up for their civil and labor rights.

The event generated intense media interest. Here’s a sample:

NPR: Obama’s Deportation Policies Have Failed, Immigrant Advocates Say

Criticism of the Obama administration’s deportation policies continues to pour in as previously supportive groups called the latest government effort a failure.

Immigrant advocates on Monday condemned the administration’s recent findings that a policy designed to reduce the deportations of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants has had almost no effect.

An ongoing government review has found that fewer than 2 percent of the more than 400,000 pending deportation cases have been halted.

The government says thousands more cases will be closed, but critics say the paltry results so far expose an unwillingness among immigration agents to enforce the new policy.

“We were quite hopeful that the new policies would usher in a new era of humane enforcement,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, told reporters on a conference call with other advocacy groups. “A year later, we are sad to declare that the implementation of this policy is failing. [It] has not made this better and to some extent has made it worse.”

CBS: Deportation rates complicate Obama’s message to Latinos

Sharry and other immigrant advocates say the “prosecutorial discretion” efforts have fallen short because of a lack of leadership from the top — pointing both to Napolitano and Mr. Obama. They charge the president and his cabinet members have the power to improve the program, but haven’t in the face of Republican criticism. While polls show Mr. Obama still has strong support from Latino voters, those advocates say the continued high deportation rates will take their toll.

“How can we believe in a president who says he doesn’t have power” to improve deportation efforts said Gaby Pacheco, a project coordinator for Education not Deportation (END), a program that advocates for undocumented youth. “How can we put our eggs in that basket when he does not want to do anything for our community?”

The review of backlogged immigration cases began in November, and as of May 29, 288,361 cases have been reviewed. Just 20,648 cases were identified as amenable to “prosecutorial discretion.”

In many cases, undocumented immigrants who were offered a deal from prosecutors rejected it, convinced they would fare better in the court system. Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, described the government offers as stingy.

San Antonio Express-News: Lack of progress on deportation cases criticized

[ICE] said 55 percent of the people deported last year were convicted criminals and 90 percent of all removals were considered priorities.

But according to an analysis from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, the new guidelinees resulted in fewer than 1 percent of the country’s backlog of 300,000 immigration cases being closed at the end of March. In San Antonio, the percentage is even lower.

“I feel like I’ve had several clients who were worthy of having (their cases closed) and they didn’t receive it,” said San Antonio immigration attorney Lance Curtright. “I think they could have cast a broader net, especially considering immigration courts are really clogged. I have cases still being scheduled for 2013.”

Cesar Lopez, a 35-year-old Austin resident who came to the country in 1992, was surprised when ICE denied his request for prosecutorial discretion in November. He has four children who are U.S. citizens and has never been charged with a crime, and his parents both obtained legal residency. He was put into deportation proceedings in 2009 after being pulled over in Williamson County.

When ICE denied Lopez’s request, it said the deportation case was so far along that it didn’t make sense to halt, said his lawyer, David Armendáriz.

The Guardian: Deportation of law-abiding immigrants may hurt Obama’s re-election chances

The Obama administration has failed to deliver on its promise to lift the threat of deportation for law-abiding undocumented immigrants, according to an alliance of Hispanic and civil rights leaders who warn that disappointment among Latino voters could damage the president’s chances of being re-elected.

A new report from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (Firm) criticises the department of homeland security for failing to implement its own policy that switched the target of deportations onto serious criminal offenders, or the “worst of the worst”.

Firm concludes that the lack of implementation could “undermine the credibility of President Obama’s standing with Latino and immigrant communities nationwide”.

The report shows that in the three years from 2009, more than 1 million immigrants were deported – a vast increase on levels under George Bush. In the first six months of 2011, the ranks of the deported included 46,000 mothers and fathers of children with full citizenship status, underlining the shattering of families.

The New Republic: Is There Any Hope For Obama’s Dysfunctional Immigration Policy

Earlier today, I was on a conference call of immigration reform advocates. The topic of discussion was a much-hyped review by officials of pending removal cases. After seven months, it has resulted, pathetically, in relief from deportation only about 2 percent of the time. Every single one of the advocates was fed up.

They’re not alone. When it comes to immigration policy, President Obama has shown a remarkable ability to infuriate basically everyone. To be sure, not all of his detractors’ complaints are valid—Congressional Republicans, in particular, have devoted most of their energy since January 2009 to denouncing White House immigration policies that exist mainly in their imaginations. But to proponents of immigration reform—a group among which the president should, in theory, have more allies—this administration has consistently over-promised and under-delivered. If you don’t pay close attention to every corner of immigration politics, it seems like a baffling strategy. But here’s the thing: It’s not baffling, and it’s not a strategy, either.

“The thing you have to understand,” a leading immigration expert told me once, “is that the administration is getting fucked from all sides.” The deeper you go into the world of immigration policy, the truer that seems. For Republicans, Obama, simply because he favors enacting immigration reform (eventually), can ipso facto never be sufficiently tough on enforcement. But even so, to preserve any hope of eventual reform, Obama needs to build credibility with those same Republicans, so he has been very tough on enforcement—which alienates the reformers in his liberal base. To address their complaints, the administration has announced new changes to immigration enforcement, but facing resistance from Republicans and immigration officers, it has failed to implement those reforms. Now, everyone is furious: The announcement of reforms was proof to the hardliners that the White House really favored “amnesty” all along, and failure to follow through on the new policies was proof to the reformers that the White House was all talk. Like I said: This is not strategy so much as it is flailing.

Of course, even in the twisted politics of immigration, there are certain cases that you’d think would be beyond dispute. And you might also think that even Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has been notoriously stringent in its interpretation of the new removal guidelines, could find some reason to spare from deportation a young woman who was brought to this country as a small child, who knows no other home besides the United States, who poses no threat to society, whose teachers vouch for her work ethic and strong character, and who has recently graduated (with a high rank, no less) from high school. But if you think that, you probably don’t spend much time in the world of immigration politics.

 

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