[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin released the following statement today after the Department of Homeland Security announced the next steps in the implementation of the Obama Administration’s new deportation policy:
“I strongly support the Obama Administration’s new deportation policy and I commend the Department of Homeland Security for the steps it is taking today to implement this policy. But more needs to be done, and it needs to be done quickly. Many young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act are still facing deportation proceedings. Almost every day, my office is contacted by DREAM Act students who are at risk of being deported in days or even hours.”
“It is important to understand that this new policy is only a temporary solution. The deportations of many DREAM Act students will be temporarily suspended. But ultimately the responsibility lies with Congress to pass the DREAM Act and give DREAM Act students a path to permanent legal status in America.”
On August 18, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano sent Senator Durbin a letter announcing a new deportation policy. Under the new policy, DHS will review pending deportation cases to identify which are high-priority and which are low-priority. Cases involving criminals and threats to public safety will be expedited, while low-priority cases will be closed in many instances.
Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced the next steps in this process:
- Beginning today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and attorneys will receive comprehensive training on this new deportation policy. By January, all ICE officers and attorneys will have received this training.
- Beginning today, ICE attorneys will review all new deportation cases to identify low priority cases that should not be placed in the immigration courts.
- Beginning in early December, Department of Homeland Security attorneys will review pending deportation cases in Baltimore and Denver to identify low priority cases that should be removed from the immigration courts.
- This trial review of new and pending cases will be completed by mid-January and then will be expanded nationwide.
A copy of today’s DHS announcement and the August 18 letter is attached. Video of Senator Durbin questioning Secretary Napolitano on the new policy can be viewed here.
Background on Deportation Policy
Earlier this year, Senator Durbin and Senator Lugar were joined in their request by 21 Senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and Senator Bob Menendez.
In response to these letters, John Morton, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, issued a memo in June establishing new priorities for deportations. The Morton memo says that it is a high priority to deport those who have committed serious crimes or are a threat to public safety, while it is a low priority to deport individuals who have been in the United States since childhood, like those who are eligible for the DREAM Act.
During a hearing this summer on the DREAM Act, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Senator Durbin that the Department of Homeland Security would establish a process to implement the Morton memo.
On August 18, Secretary Napolitano sent Senator Durbin a letter saying that high-priority cases will be expedited, while low-priority cases will be closed in many instances.
Today there are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. It would take billions and billions of dollars to deport all of them. And it would likely lead to the collapse of our economy as we would be deprived of millions of hardworking immigrants. Therefore, DHS has to set priorities about which people to deport – and not deport – using its limited resources.
What the Obama Administration has done in establishing this new process for prioritizing deportations is perfectly appropriate and legal. Throughout our history, the government has decided who to prosecute – and who not to prosecute – based on law enforcement priorities and available resources.