President Obama announced that he was going to change his policy on deportations because Congress could not pass comprehensive immigration reform. The President recently used his executive authority to give legal status to “dreamers”, and to use prosecutorial discretion in the cases of undocumented parents of United States citizen children. The current state of enforcement is that the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to be focusing on undocumented immigrants or green card holders who have committed serious crimes. The flaw in this policy is that as the directive gets filtered down to the enforcement agents, the message and the meaning are lost. At this point, any alien who has committed even minor offenses are being targeted for deportation.
The new policy was set to expand the criteria of who the enforcement agents would target for deportation. Recently, however, the Obama administration revealed that it was delaying the implementation of this new policy to allow Congress to continue efforts to introduce and pass immigration reform. Now, any new policy implementation will have to wait until after August 1st, the close of Congress’ summer session. A by-product of this announcement is even more ramped up enforcement and an increase in detention and deportation. This coming as President Obama is already the leader of all Presidents in deportation during his term.
For instance, in Milwaukee, on the very same day that President Obama announced the delay, enforcement agents spread out throughout the city and detained over 20 non-citizens at their homes or workplaces. Many were hardened criminals but some were immigrants who have resided in the United States for a long time and have no criminal history. Despite the delay, many members of Congress have stated that they will act on their own timetable and that the delay will not pressure them into passing a law they are not happy with.
The new policy being considered by President Obama will focus on enforcement against immigrants with serious criminal convictions, although it is not clear if this is going to be defined, and those who have just crossed the borders illegally. He will order agents to not focus on immigrants with clean records and families who are settled here. There has been criticism of late that the detention of immigrants has been a “for profit” venture. Many immigrants are detained in private facilities such as those owned by the GEO Group. They are paid for each immigrant detained. In certain cases, they are held without bond or chance of release. Some are held for over a year while theirremoval proceedings are conducted.
The delay in this new policy has without a doubt caused an uptick in raids on immigrant communities and detention of immigrants. Livelihoods and families are being adversely affected. Those trying to live the American dream have it within their grasp but must hold on at least until after Congress recesses.