Ask any Colorado immigration lawyer about the backlog of deportation cases in Colorado and nationwide currently on the dockets, and it becomes clear that the courts are overwhelmed. In an effort to streamline the deportation case reviews, and also to ensure that otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants are not painted with the same brush as felons and gang members, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has implemented a pilot program in two cities nationwide – Denver and Baltimore. Specifically the program is to determine if certain individuals in removal proceedings can be taken out of the deportation system based on several positive factors relating to the individual. It is referred to as “Prosecutorial Discretion.” If it is successful on a trial basis, it will be rolled out nationally.
Prosecutorial review took place in Denver Immigration Court in January 2012 with several immigrants receiving letters of having their case “administratively closed.” This essentially means the person is no longer on the court calendar or “docket” but still under the jurisdiction of the court. It is possible that eventually the court would agree to have the case terminated in court, leaving the applicant in the same condition as before being subjected to deportation. This process will be ongoing until otherwise provided notification.
The review process takes into account the immigrants’ criminal histories, including DUIs, ties to the community, relationships to US citizen or legal permanent resident relatives, and if they graduated from high school as well as their overall histories dating back to the days they entered the United States.
Making the deportation process more equitable and manageable is the focus. The hardship of an illegal immigrant brought to the U.S. as an infant, who now daily fears deportation to a basically foreign country, is difficult to imagine. Many a Denver immigration lawyer knows the stories of such immigrants, their inability to return to their country of birth, the absence of a support system, and frequently even language barriers that arise from societal assimilation into American culture.
Is now the time to visit a Colorado immigration lawyer and ask for a case review? While it stands to reason that the prosecutorial discretion trial program could offer some undocumented immigrants more time in the United States which could possibly lead to future legal residency options, Denver immigration attorneys and immigration advocates are not totally sold on this program as a panacea for what ails the immigrant community. A large bone of contention is the continued legal limbo of the affected immigrants whose backgrounds do not warrant removal from the United States. Having been found not to be threats to society, Denver immigration lawyers point out that these immigrants are nevertheless not given a legal status and thus, no ability to work or obtain drivers’ licenses. It is still apparent that comprehensive legal reform is necessary to solve the issue of illegal immigrants on a long term basis. Nevertheless, it is a positive step toward for dealing with the issue of the illegal immigration by giving the court much more discretion than previously experienced in order to balance the issue of fairness and security.