When you talk about immigration reform, you will undoubtedly come to the issue of deportations. Earlier this year, reports came out showing the Obama Administration has overseen more than two million deportations. This is more than any other president. However, President Obama has said repeatedly that he cannot stop deportations on his own. That is not enough for many immigration reform advocates who are concerned with current immigration policies and procedures.
Now, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, is joining the conversation and is considering “limiting deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. [without documentation] who don't have serious criminal records, according to two people with knowledge of his deliberations.” According to an article published by the Huffington Post, this revision could protect those immigrants who are being deported only because they have committed certain immigration violations.
In many cases, these are non-violent offenses and do not pose a risk to national security. These types of violations include missing an immigration court date, failing to comply with a deportation order, or re-entering the country after having already been deported.
Although these changes would be welcomed, they fall short of other, major revisions desired by immigration reform advocates. Additional modifications hoped for by advocates include expanding a “two-year-old program that grants work permits to certain immigrants brought here [without documentation] as children to include other groups, such as the parents of any children born in the U.S.”
While some see a goal like this as just a lofty aspiration, it has already been discussed by lawmakers and politicians. John Sandweg was the acting director of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) until February of this year and has publicly stated that he “promoted the policy change for immigrants without serious criminal records before his departure and that it was being weighed by Johnson.” Although the proceedings are kept confidential, an anonymous immigration advocate has also confirmed that the policy change is being considered.
This, along with other possible changes, comes right around the same time that President Obama called for a review that focuses on making deportations more “humane.” Recently, the president and his administration have come under increased pressure to make big changes regarding immigration reform.
Advocates have participated in hunger strikes and protests over the last year, exhibiting their discontent with the current state of immigration in this country. These events have been held near the White House and in other locations throughout the nation. So, what is the answer? President Obama continues to move the conversation towards congressional action. In a recent news conference, he stated “[w]e have already tried to take as many administrative steps as we could."
In addition, officials are seemingly looking more towards “limited, near-term steps that could still make a difference for the immigrant population.” Whenever priorities shift within an agency or department, questions generally follow. One issue is the concern that ICE agents tend to ignore certain policies and/or procedures implemented by the administration.
What are your thoughts on the best methods of curbing deportations?