New from Greg Sargent at the Washington Post this morning: the AFL-CIO has released a memo asking President Obama to stop deporting low-priority immigrants — and to give them work permits. Read more below or here:
The AFL-CIO memo is a reminder that Obama will likely feel overwhelming pressure to do something to slow deportations if House Republicans fail to act legislatively by the August recess.
The Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing deportation policies to make them more humane. The AFL-CIO is now, in effect, calling on Obama to go big with whatever solution he recommends — which would certainly trigger a massive backlash from Republicans.
The AFL-CIO memo calls on the Department of Homeland Security to “grant affirmative relief with work authorization to individuals who are low priorities for removal or eligible for prosecutorial discretion under existing DHS policies.”
One example of these existing DHS policies can be found in the Morton Memo issued by DHS in 2011, which said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can exercise prosecutorial discretion in deeming some a lower priority for deportation, such as elderly individuals, crime victims, longtime U.S. residents, and people with disabilities or serious health conditions. Immigration advocates say that ICE agents have widely ignored the memo.
The AFL-CIO is calling on DHS to create a new mechanism through which people who are low priority for deportation — according to already existing DHS policy — can seek relief. As legal justification for this, the AFL-CIO memo argues that an agency has the discretion not to use law enforcement resources to target certain people, and instead prioritize those resources to target higher priority individuals (in this case, criminals and drug dealers).