WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government will
review its deportation caseload to keep low-priority cases from
resulting in removal, the White House announcedThursday.
Democratic congressional leaders praised the move and said
it would ease the way for individuals who came to the United
States illegally as children and have already spent years in
the country to stay and work legally.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano detailed the
changes, on behalf of President Barack Obama, in a letter to
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, a long-time sponsor of
"Together with the Department of Justice, we have initiated
an interagency working group to execute a case-by-case review
of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure
that they constitute our highest priorities," wrote Napolitano.
New cases placed in removal proceedings will get similar
treatment, she said.
Homeland Security Department will begin reviewing all
300,000 backlogged deportation cases, according to Durbin's
Durbin is the chief sponsor of the recently introduced
DREAM Act, which would pave a path to legal status and eventual
citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United
States as children, lived in the country for at least five
years, and completed two years of college or military service,
among other requirements.
In a statement Thursday, Durbin said if fully
implemented, "the new process should stop virtually all DREAM
The new process will consider such "positive factors" as
student status among criteria for identifying low-priority
But Napolitano's letter said: "It will not provide
categorical relief for any group. Thus, this process will not
alleviate the need for passage of the DREAM Act or for larger
reforms to our immigration laws."
Republicans have said the DREAM Act would amount to amnesty
for illegal immigrants and criticized the idea that the
administration should implement similar policies on its own.
"Every amnesty encourages more illegal immigration, costs
taxpayers who pay for government benefits, and displaces
American workers," Republican Representative Lamar Smith, who
chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said of the DREAM Act.
Under Obama, the United States has deported more than 1.4
million people for immigration violations.
(Editing by Jerry Norton and Mohammad Zargham)
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