On Thursday, the Obama administration revealed plans for an updated immigration policy that looks to limit the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States from facing deportation.
The new policy may have broad, positive consequences for young immigrants who entered the country as minors and for bi-national same-sex couples, who face the risk of being separated due to unnecessarily strict deportation procedures.
The news comes from the Department of Homeland Security - the DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, submitted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explaining the planned changes.
Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner has more:
A senior administration official says the changes are aimed at moving prosecutorial discretion exercised by immigration enforcement officials from an "ad hoc" system to a system focused on the "highest priorities" that will "eliminate the lowest priority cases" - including, another senior administration official says, same-sex couples where one partner is facing deportation.
In her letter, Napolitano writes:
"The President has said on numerous occasions that it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases, such as individuals like those you reference in your letter, who were brought to this country as young children and know no other home. From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities. Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission - clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from individuals who pose a threat to public safety."
The focal point of Napolitano's letter was the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act - the DREAM Act - the bill that failed right alongside the passage of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal in December 2010. The bill would grant permanent residency to undocumented students who arrived in the United States as minors and graduated from high school in the country.
Obama has been saying for months that his deportation policies are targeted at undocumented immigrants who have engaged in criminal activity. But that hasn't been the reality of who has been deported. It will be interesting to see if this new administrative attention will work toward a more sensible deportation policy. As recently as May 2011, the Obama administration has been deporting far more non-criminals than it has criminals. Check out this graphic from Campus Progress: