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Senior members of the Obama Administration announced Aug. 19 a new process to review and potentially stay deportations of certain non-criminal immigrants, including bi-national same-sex couples.
Roughly 300,000 immigrants are currently in the deportation process. The new program would individually review those cases, seeking those who are not criminals, those who have not re-entered the country after a prior deportation and those who did not recently enter the country. These non-criminal, “low-priority” cases would then be eligible for a stay of deportation.
According to the Washington Blade, “Administration officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships. During a conference call with media outlets, a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said these criteria are inclusive of LGBT families and same-sex couples.”
The move comes after years of congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. While this decision will not bring a permanent solution to the problem, its proper implementation could help many families who have lived, worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for many years from being torn apart by deportation.
Cindy Estrada, international vice president of the United Auto Workers, reiterated the call of comprehensive immigration reform. “This is certainly a step in the right direction and a victory for immigrants and their families. We thank the president for recognizing the need for this humane change in policy. Implemented properly, this directive will keep families together and our communities safe. However, we must continue the fight for comprehensive immigration reform that will finally protect immigrant and American workers, keep families together, and allow students to achieve their dreams.”
Some unanswered questions remain regarding the program, including the timeline for implementation, the composition of the committee and the exact criteria for relief.
“We’re glad that the president has acted to reform some of the flaws in our immigration enforcement. We certainly should not be wasting our time or tax dollars targeting immigrant families who are simply working hard, raising families, and paying taxes,” said Ryan Bates, director of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights & Reform – Michigan. “If properly and swiftly implemented, this process could restore some much-needed balance and fairness to our system.”