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Some immigration deportation cases to get new treatment in court

We have mentioned previously on our North Carolina blog that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revised its policy on deportation cases last year. In a memorandum written by ICE Director John Morton, the agency was given the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion--that is, the ability to prioritize deportation cases and decide whether a particular immigrant's case merited the use of government resources. Those involving law-abiding illegal immigrants, for example, would generally not be pursued.

ICE is not the only governmental body having to allocate scarce resources to deportation cases, however. Courts too, are crowded with cases. In an effort to thin out its docket, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has put immigration cases on hold for 90 days. It has asked the parties to consider whether their cases need to be resolved before the court, whether they could be heard instead by the Board of Immigration Appeals or whether the government needs to pursue the case at all.

The hope is that cases deemed low priority by ICE--such as those involving illegal immigrants without criminal records--will be closed, freeing up judicial resources for deportation cases that the government intends to pursue seriously. The court noted that there were cases where, even if the government won, it was not entirely clear that immigration officials could or would complete deportation proceedings.

The 2nd Circuit is believed to be the first court to take this step in response to the high number of deportation cases. While North Carolina is not included in the 2nd Circuit, other Courts of Appeals may look to the 2nd Circuit's example and create a similar framework in the future.

Source: Reuters, "2nd Circuit sets new rules for immigration cases," Basil Katz, Oct. 19, 2012

• There are legal options for immigrants who have been ordered deported. You can learn more about obtaining required documents at our Greensboro immigration page.

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