Deportation Looms for Undocumented Immigrants Despite Obama Pledge
Velasquez was released on bail. Two years later, she is facing deportation. And like hundreds of thousands of other undocumented immigrants facing removal from the United States, she’ll likely need another miracle.
That’s because President Barack Obama’s promise to rein in the deportation of people without serious criminal records largely has been a failure, according to immigration attorneys and advocates.
In June 2011, the Obama administration announced new ground rules for applying “prosecutorial discretion,” or PD for short. The policy would focus immigration enforcement on serious criminals and high-priority immigration violations while allowing vast numbers of families facing deportation to stay in the country.
That November, immigration officials went about the arduous task of reviewing some 300,000 pending deportation cases, applying the new guidelines. Obama critics called the move a pre-election ploy to woo back Latino voters who had become disillusioned with record numbers of deportations under Obama.
In its first year, only 2 percent of the deportation cases reviewed under the policy were halted and closed, according to the New York Times. Since then, the PD approval rate has risen across the country, but not by much.
Between September 2012 and July 2013, only 7 percent of the 325,044 deportation cases reviewed by the federal government for leniency have been stopped through PD, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, a nonprofit research group based at Syracuse University.
The rate of approval varies widely from one immigration court to the next.