Archive for the ‘Deportation’ Category

Obama Administration to End Deportations of Relatives of U.S. Troops and Veterans

December 4, 2013

DeportationsAccording the New York Times, the Obama administration announced that it would no longer pursue deportations of “close relatives of active military troops and veterans” who are in the country illegally.  The new policy, announced in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy memo, would permit family members to apply for “parole in place,” allowing them to remain in the country by granting them legal status. The USCIS stated that the exemption is to serve as a reward to veterans for their service, and to support active-duty troops and reduce their stress, which, according to USCIS, has hurt military readiness.

The announcement comes approximately a year and a half after the President announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, allowing young people meeting certain requirements to remain in the US despite lacking legal immigration status.  In the wake of DACA and this new deportation exception, advocacy groups are now arguing that the President has the authority to halt all deportations. Advocates are now pushing the dramatic rollback in deportations since progress on an immigration reform bill has come to a standstill. However, despite taking incremental steps in ending some deportations, focused on specific groups, the Obama administration has not indicated intent to extend the policy to the overall immigrant population.

Despite its efforts, the administration seems to be caught in the middle of the immigration debate, not being able to appease immigrant advocates, who say the President is not doing enough, while conservatives criticize the policy as overstepping presidential authority.

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Arizona Expands Restrictions on Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

October 2, 2013

Arizona Governor BrewerIn a follow-up to Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s announcement last year that the state would deny driver’s licenses to young immigrants, known as “dreamers,” who have been granted deportation deferment under a recent Obama administration policy, Arizona has announced that it will expand its restrictions on who may receive an Arizona driver’s license.  Under the policy expansion, all immigrants “who have been granted relief from deportation” will be prohibited from obtaining a drivers license.

According to ACLU of Arizona executive director, Alessandra Soler, the policy “is motivated by politics, and Brewer’s desire to get out from under a lawsuit” that the ALCU and other groups filed last year in response to Arizona’s ban on drivers’ licenses for dreamers.  The new policy, according to the ACLU, would ban the issuance of drivers’ licenses to individuals who have been allowed to remain in the country for humanitarian reasons, including victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation.

The policy expansion comes in the wake of a federal judge’s refusal to grant an injunction on the original policy and a rejection of an argument that the policy is preempted by Federal law.  However, the judge also stated that plaintiffs’ argument that the policy violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment would likely prevail.

New York City Invests Millions in Undocumented Immigrant Education and Legal Defense

August 21, 2013

Immigrant EducationNew York City, further reinforcing its standing as one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the U.S., plans to invest $18 million to assist young immigrants without legal immigration status in qualifying for federal deferred action, a program granting temporary reprieve from deportation.  The two-year investment represents “the largest investment made by any municipality in the nation to help immigrants obtain the deferral.”

The money will be used to create 16,000 additional seats for the historically underfunded adult education programs across the city in order help potential deferral applicants earn a high school diploma or G.E.D. to satisfy the federal program requirements.

The education project is part of a pair of initiatives to provide public money to assist immigrants.  The second program, the first of its kind in the U.S., allocates funds to establish a pilot program, called the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, to provide public defenders for immigrants in deportation proceedings.

The program is aimed at helping the 60% of immigrants detained in New York that are not able to secure legal representation.  Although approximately 2,800 unrepresented immigrants face deportation each year, the pilot program will cover only 135 immigrants.  However, despite the limited reach of the program, advocates remain optimistic that it will “give them a chance to test their theories and demonstrate the potential impact of a broader plan” as well as allow for the creation of a model that can be replicated by other municipalities.