President Barack Obama has called for a sweeping review of his administration’s immigration enforcement procedures.
In a letter recently sent to a group of senators, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will form an interagency working group to review every pending deportation case, prioritizing the removal of violent criminals and other felons, in accordance with administration priorities.
Nationwide protesters have recently called for the DHS Secure Communities program to end. Under this program, immigration authorities screen fingerprints taken from individuals who enter the U.S. justice system to determine citizenship status. Napolitano’s letter specified that 79,000 more criminals were deported in 2010 than in 2008, thanks to Secure Communities. Critics of the program say minor offenders, exonerated criminal defendants and even witnesses have been deported under the program.
The large-scale review of pending cases is meant to ensure Secure Communities operates as intended.
“The President has said on numerous occasions that it makes no sense to expend our law enforcement resources on low-priority cases,” Napolitano wrote. “Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission-clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from individuals who pose a threat to public safety.”
More than 275,000 deportation cases were pending nationwide as of May, according to the Boston Globe.