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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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On Heels of Deportation Review Announcement, Rep. Horsford, Advocates and Legal Experts Discuss Hopes and Expectations for Administrative Action

Since news broke last week that President Obama was ordering Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review options for executive action to reduce deportations, many have speculated about what these options might entail and when and how the President might use them.

On this week’s Office Hours, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) joined advocates and legal experts to share hopes and expectations for administrative action and what this means politically.

Earlier this week, Rep. Horsford added his voice to the chorus of voices calling for administrative relief when Bryan Rivera, a U.S. citizen whose mother was in detention, reached out to him for help.

Said Rep. Horsford on today’s call:

During an Ad Hoc field hearing this week, I heard from a young man whose mother was being detained in our district. She was a victim of domestic violence, and her abuser followed through on his threats to call ICE on her. Thankfully, we were able to get her released and are working on her status, but Bryan and his mom Thelma are an example of how families can be torn apart by our broken immigration system.

On the cusp of a historical 2-millionth deportation set to take place over the next few weeks, advocates and legal experts are outlining the policy changes they expect from the Obama Administration–changes they say need to happen whether immigration legislation advances in the House or not.

Neema Singh Guliani, Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said:

Over the last several years there has been an expansion in administrative practices promoting civil rights violations.  These practices have separated families and devastated communities, and the Administration can and should address them today.  What are some of the reforms we’re proposing?  Reexamination of the priorities the Administration has set for immigration enforcement, a closer look at immigration holds, addressing the way people are deported without an immigration hearing, and the enhanced use of prosecutorial discretion.

Added Kamal Essaheb, Immigration Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), said:

The time for review of DHS policies is over. For six years, advocates and experts alike have identified specific ways to improve this organization, which spends an eye popping $18 billion on enforcement activities alone. The time to end wasteful spending and restore humane treatment is now.

Concluded Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

There are many enforcement policies that need to be changed to be more humane, rational, and fiscally responsible.  If the Obama Administration supports citizenship for immigrants included in the Senate bill, then they can’t support deporting them like they are.  That’s why we’re pushing for an expanded deferred action program so that American families don’t have to live in fear of being ripped away from their loved ones at any second.

I was at a hearing yesterday in Pennsylvania for Alfredo Ramos, an Ohio man who is being charged with illegal re-entry by the Department of Justice.  This man is a father.  He has lived in the U.S. for 24 years; this is his home.  The government doesn’t have to prosecute him, that’s an elective decision they are making when Ramos should instead be on a path to citizenship.  These are the choices that Obama Administration can make differently today, even as we all continue to press House Republicans to act on a legislative solution.

To listen to a recording of today’s call, click here.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.