National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Policy Update: Administrative Developments for April 2011

April 27, 2011 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Pressure on Administration to Grant Relief for DREAM-eligible students: A group of 22 Senators—including Majority Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, and Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy—sent a letter on April 13 to President Obama saying that they would support a grant of deferred action for all young people who meet the requirements of the DREAM Act.  They also suggested the Administration use their existing prosecutorial discretion, to make it easier for DREAM-eligible students to apply for deferred action, on a case-by-case basis.  

In a separate letter, Senator Charles Schumer, Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in which he said that in “an environment where agency funds are decreasing, it is important that the Department of Homeland Security focus its immigration enforcement efforts on terrorists, criminals, and others who impose a real security threat to our nation.”  He asked the Secretary to use her discretion to weigh—on a case-by-case basis—whether it make sense to use scarce detention and removal funds to deport any non-criminal immigrants who are high school students “being deported solely for the illegal conduct of their parents;” “bi-national same-sex married couples;” “agricultural workers;” or “immigrant parents with U.S.-citizen children.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing litigation organization Judicial Watch, which among other causes, is helping to defend Arizona’s SB 1070 and is suing a number of police departments for their community policing practices, announced that it filed two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the Obama Administration to obtain records pertaining to what they call “stealth amnesty.”

ICE Resumes Removals to Haiti: ICE announced on April 1 that it was planning to resume deportations of some Haitians.  After a first round of deportations resulted in the death of one deportee after he was imprisoned and suffered cholera-like symptoms shortly after arriving in Haiti, ICE provided an opportunity for public comment on their deportation policy.  In the end, they decided to resume deportations, saying that ICE and the State Department “have been working with the Government of Haiti and other key partners to resume removals in as safe, humane, and minimally disruptive a manner as possible….” For more information, see this press release from the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.

President Convenes Meeting on Immigration Reform: On April 19, the President convened a meeting of, among others, business CEOs, key leaders of the faith and civil rights communities, and law enforcement and elected officials.  Included in the meeting were National Evangelical Association President Leith Anderson, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and many others.

According to this White House summary, the President promised to “intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months,” and encouraged participants to “take a public and active role to lead a constructive and civil debate” in “communities around the country and involve many sectors of American society in insisting that Congress act.”  The President also said that, “his Cabinet and White House team will follow up with each participant….”

This Forum press release reacts to the White House meeting.

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