According to the Secretary of Homeland Security, if the Republican House does not advance towards a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) this year, the Obama administration will be forced to take action. After many previously unmet promises, in March 2014 Obama assured the U.S. Latino population that he would review the U.S. immigration and deportation policies.
Both political parties, as well as Latino leaders have presented proposals to Congress in an effort to develop an agreement for reasonable CIR. However, the Republicans are still being blamed for the lack of cooperation, and Obama is stressing a “more humane” approach to strict immigration enforcement. In March, 2014, Obama, his Senior Staff, as well as 17 representatives of labor, faith based, and Latino based organizations, met and attempted to set in motion a plan for immigration reform. Their hope was to expand the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that was presented by Obama in 2012. This program already allows young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. to remain here, but would expand to provide parents and immediate family members the right to remain in the U.S. as well.
White House Immigration Attorneys have also proposed that illegal immigrants who are the relatives of a U.S. citizen would automatically receive permanent residency. This would permit nearly 1 million illegal immigrants to apply for either a two-year deferral of deportation to avoid removal proceedings, or a work visa.
On another note, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced a policy that could possibly slow the rate at which illegal immigrants are being deported. Once again, the White House rejected these, on the grounds that it would be too difficult to hold up in a courtroom, leaving DHS with few options. Therefore, Officials have concluded that they essentially have been left with no choice but to attempt to stop the deportation of all illegal immigrants who have no criminal record except minor crimes, and would focus on the illegal immigrants who pose as an actual threat to U.S. security.
This policy change is consistently reviewed, and could possibly lead to the leniency of the detention of low priority immigrants, or immigrants with minor crimes. A program called Secure Communities, allows agents to demand that local prisons hold illegal immigrants until the federal agents are able to take their case. Those same officials are looking to possibly change this policy by requesting that the detainees only be illegal immigrants who have committed major crimes, or qualify for deportation. They are also looking to assure that the detainment centers are in acceptable condition for the illegal immigrants that are being held.
This year the hope is that immigration reform will conclude with policies that are acceptable to every political party, activist, and immigrant. As of now, numerous undocumented immigrants continue to be deported for expired visas, or for illegal entry, and yet they have committed no serious crimes. As a result, Obama has decided that the focus must now be switched from harsh deportation policies to a focus on unification of families. However, no administrative action is expected until the end of 2014. In the meantime CIR continues to be at a halt.