San Diego, CA-Amid a growing budget crisis, ICE official released over 2,000 immigrants, some 600 of which had criminal records, from detention centers. To critics of the Obama Administration, these releases represented yet another example of the President’s refusal to enforce the country’s immigration laws. However, a new report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general shows the White House and DHS did not approve of the releases.
Last year, on March 1st, after analyzing internal budget documents, found that ICE released over 2,000 immigrants facing deportation and that 600 of the immigrants released were facing criminal charges ranging from homicide to drug charges.
The Obama Administration and then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano pushed back against the allegations, initially denying the AP’s findings, which they continued to do for at least two weeks until ICE Director Joe Morton confirmed the releases, stating they were approved for budgetary reasons.
In his report, Inspector General John Roth said ICE did not inform the White House or DHS of how the budget cuts—which President Obama disapproved of—would impact immigration, the Washington Post reported. Roth’s report also found ICE did not track the budget and plan appropriately nor did the agency anticipate an increase of arrests at the Southern Border.
Roth’s report concluded that the ICE officials responsible for the releases made “made reasonable decisions given the short time frame,” according to the Washington Post.
The immigrants released still face deportation, and must check in with immigration authorities while they wait for their deportation hearings to come up. Being released back in the community doesn’t shield an immigrant from removal, but it does give an immigrant a better chance of fighting deportation, primarily because it gives them the time and freedom to enlist the services of an immigration attorney.
Immigrants facing deportation have a number of deportation defense strategies, and other means through which an immigrant can avoid deportation. The possible defenses against deportation vary from person to person and depends on numerous mitigating factors such as an immigrant’s legal status, their skills and their relationship to a U.S. citizen.
For example, young undocumented immigrants may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This status allows them to avoid deportation and apply for a work permit. This relief program has a number of requirements and is only temporary, but it is one of the many such programs available to undocumented immigrants. If an immigrant has received a notice of removal, they need to act quickly and retain legal counsel. It takes time to build an effective deportation defense and getting help early on in the process will give an immigrant a greater chance of success.
Immigration attorneys can be valuable assets to any immigrant since they are well-versed in the complexities of U.S immigration laws. Whether an immigrant is facing deportation or needs help obtaining a visa, they will benefit from having an immigration lawyer on their side, making certain their rights are protected.