According to a new report, the Trump administration has changed a policy initiated by former President Barack Obama that halted the deportation of some illegal immigrants.
Under Obama’s 2011 policy, illegal immigrants who “had formed deep ties in the United States and whom the government considered no threat to public safety” were not a priority, and the administration instead focused on illegal immigrants guilty of “serious crimes.”
The Trump administration has reopened over a thousand of those cases, according to Reuters. They analyzed data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review and found that between March 1 and May 31, federal prosecutors “moved to reopen 1,329 immigration cases.”
By comparison, during the same time period in 2016, the Obama administration only moved to reopen 430 cases, and usually only because the individual in question had committed a serious crime.
“This is a sea change,” former American Immigration Lawyers Association President David Leopold reportedly said. “Before, if someone did something after the case was closed out, that showed that person was a threat, then it would be reopened. Now they are opening cases just because they want to deport people.”
It is unknown how many cases will ultimately be reopened. According to the report, the reopened cases include illegal immigrants who were cited for crimes such as traffic violations. These new efforts have not been publicized, but the increased scrutiny on undocumented immigrants does fall in line the president’s campaign pledges to crack down illegal immigration.
In January, President Trump announced a plan to expand the criteria for deporting undocumented immigrants. On January 25th, he signed an executive order (EO) titled: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” The EO was executed “in order to ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States as well as to ensure that the Nation’s immigration laws are faithfully executed” and called for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents. It also called for:
- a secure the southern border, including a physical wall supported by adequate personnel,
- detention of individuals violating Federal law, State law and Federal immigration law,
- expedited determinations, and
- prompt removal of individuals who were denied the ability to remain in the U.S.
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Immigration judges facing a backlog of cases by the thousands