Executive Action: Enforcement Reforms
When the Obama Administration was first elected, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wanted to pursue effective and smart enforcement policies. During this process, the agency substituted age old worksite raids with a new enforcement strategy for work sites which prioritized investigation and often prosecution of employers which continually encouraged unauthorized immigration. As well as these work site initiatives, the DHS focused on the apprehension of people who were non citizens who had been convicted of serious crimes or who were likely to pose a security threat.
However, as time passed, the proposed priorities were not necessarily followed in practice. Agents working for the DHS who were out in the field continued to take into custody substantial numbers of people who had strong community and family ties in the U. S. but had no criminal convictions. The DHS continued its expansion of programs like Secure Communities, which included local and state law-enforcement agencies taking part in immigration enforcement.
In the years 2010 and 2011, a number of memoranda were issued based on encouraging prosecutorial discretion in the processes that made up civil immigration enforcement. Not long after, the DHS established a combined DHS and Department of Justice (DOJ) group with the responsibility of reviewing any pending cases that had not been resolved by the immigration courts so as to identify any that may be eligible for administrative closure. By June 2012, the DHS stated that anyone who had entered the U.S. as a child would be eligible for prosecutorial discretion which was named Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The new executive measures that were announced on November 20th 2014 are aimed at further consolidating DHS policy and procedure for the prioritization of removals, minimizing the chance of undocumented immigrants who have remained in the U. S. for a number of years with no convictions to be a target for removal. Included is the publication of a single memo detailing enforcement priorities to be adopted by all DHS agencies, the restructuring of the priorities, while replacing the Secure Communities program with a more consistent and streamlined enforcement scheme. Additionally, the possible inclusion of almost 5 million people in deferred action initiatives will mean enforcement resources will be better suited towards those who do pose a likely risk to the safety of the public or are a real security risk.
What this means is that people will fall into different tiers of prioritization for removal. Those on Tier 3 (or not even on Tier 3) stand a good chance at having their removal proceedings administratively closed. This will provide relief from deportation - but (usually) no work permit. Nevertheless, it is an often overlooked immigration benefit coming out Executive Action - and it applies even if the alien does not have US citizen children or qualify under DACA.
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