Immigration officials have suspended 16,544 deportation cases and are moving steadily through a review of nearly 300,000 cases in the deportation queue, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week.
The Obama administration announced the deportation review last August as a response to the searing criticism it had received for its record-breaking deportation rate that included DREAM Act-eligible youth, parents of U.S. citizen children and people who had never been convicted of anything. Immigration officials pledged to pore over the 300,000 cases of people slated for removal and administratively close the cases of those who didn’t present a threat to their communities and were not a high priority for removal.
ICE said that as of April 16, it has reviewed 219,554 pending cases of immigrants slated for deportation, and moved to suspend 7.5 percent of deportation cases. Nearly 3,000 cases have been administratively closed.
Among those whose cases were closed are 175 undocumented youth and a separate 182 cases of DREAM Act-eligible youth. The DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth who’d grown up in the U.S., committed two years to college or the military and cleared a host of hurdles to qualify for citizenship. People who had lived in the U.S. for decades; are lawful permanent residents; survivors of domestic violence or who suffered from mental illness were also among those granted relief.
Still, immigrant rights advocates contend that the deportation review, and ICE’s larger stated mission to prioritizing its enforcement work under prosecutorial discretion guidelines (pdf) outlined by ICE Director John Morton last year, have overlooked many cases of people who ought to be granted relief.