Govt Tells Agents to ID Which Immigrants Not to Deport

Alicia A. Caldwell, My Way, January 28, 2015

The Obama administration has ordered immigration agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the country illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama’s plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press.

Agents also have been told to review government files to identify any jailed immigrants they might be able to release under the program.

The directives from the Homeland Security Department mark an unusual change for U.S. immigration enforcement, placing the obligation on the government for identifying immigrants who might qualify for lenient treatment. Previously, it was the responsibility of immigrants or their lawyers to assert that they might qualify under rules that could keep them out of jail and inside the United States.

It’s akin to the Internal Revenue Service calling taxpayers to recommend they should have used certain exemptions or deductions.

The training materials apply to agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They instruct agents “to immediately begin identifying persons in their custody, as well as newly encountered persons” who may be eligible for protection from deportation.

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Under Obama’s plans, the government is focused on deporting immigrants with serious criminal records or who otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. For the most part, under the new policy, immigrants whose only offense is being in the country without permission aren’t supposed to be a priority for immigration officers.

While the administration has estimated that as many as 4 million people will be eligible for protection from deportation, the Congressional Budget Office estimated about 2 million to 2.5 million immigrants are expected to be approved for the program by 2017. As many as 1.7 million young immigrants were estimated to be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but since its 2012 creation only about 610,000 people have successfully signed up.

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