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Deportation review process fails to yield expected results

A few prior posts on this blog have discussed the current administration's immigration policy aimed at deporting immigrants it deems threats to public safety or national security while providing reprieve for those without criminal records. A number of immigration advocates expressed enthusiasm that the new immigration rules would prevent the deportation of many law-abiding immigrants in North Carolina and around the country when it was announced last summer.

The review process began late last year, and the Department of Homeland Security was tasked with examining more than 410,000 deportation cases. Although nearly 290,000 of those have received review so far, the results have been underwhelming for immigrants. Only about 4,500 immigrants have avoided deportation for the time being through prosecutorial discretion, a total representing less than 2 percent of all reviewed cases.

Nearly as many immigrants have refused the government's offer to suspend their cases, reasoning that, at least for them, trying their case in immigration court gives them better options than an uncertain reprieve from deportation. Those who have their cases suspended could potentially have them opened again at any time. In the meantime, they remain ineligible to work and have no immigration status.

By contrast, immigrants who prevail in court could obtain lawful permanent residency. The article did not provide statistics indicating how successful immigrants were in that path to becoming permanent residents, however.

Immigration officials have said that they plan to offer deportation suspensions to approximately 20,000 immigrants by the close of the review process. They indicated that more offers of prosecutorial discretion will come as soon as immigrants' cases clear prescribed background checks.

Source: The New York Times, "Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog," Julia Preston, June 6, 2012.

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