Stephen Dinan,The Washington Times
to pressure from immigrant rights activists,the Obama administration said
Thursday that it will halt
deportation proceedings on a case-by-case
basis against illegal
immigrants who meet certain criteria,such as attending school,having family
in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’
The move marks a major step for President Obama,who for months has said he
does not have to halt deportations and said he must follow the
laws as Congress has written them.
But in letters to Congress on Thursday,
Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on
“priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all
ongoing cases to see who
meets the new criteria.
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said.
“Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority
cases,such as those involving convicted felons.”
The move won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had
strenuously argued with the administration that it did have authority to take
these actions,and said as long as Congress is deadlocked on the issue,it was up
to Mr. Obama to act.
“Today’s announcement shows that this president is willing to put muscle
behind his words and to use his power to intervene when the lives of good people
are being ruined by bad laws,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez,Illinois Democrat,who
has taken a leadership role on the issue since the
death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009.
The new rules apply to those who have been apprehended and are in deportation
proceedings,but have not been officially ordered out of the country by a
Ms. Napolitano said a working group will try to come up with “guidance on how
to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration” for “compelling cases”
in instances where someone already has been ordered deported.
Administration officials made the announcement just before Mr. Obama left for
a long vacation out of Washington,and as members of Congress are back in their
The top House Republican on the Judiciary Committee said the move is part of
a White House plan “to grant backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants.”
“The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws,not look for ways
to ignore them,” said Rep. Lamar Smith,Texas Republican. “The Obama administration
should not pick and choose which laws to enforce. Administration officials
should remember the oath of office they took to uphold the Constitution and the
laws of the land.”