Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shift Continues Toward More Liberal Deportation and Detention Policies

by Anish Vashistha

There have not been many immigration-related published decisions recently, but that has not kept the topic of Immigration Law out of the news. The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") will continue its policy of providing a removal reprieve and work authorization to immigrant childhood arrivals. The continuation of DHS's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ("DACA") shows its commitment to protecting those individuals who were brought to the U.S. involuntarily but likely know no other home. However, the program remains controversial because it is not the product of a change in the law, such as the proposed DREAM Act would have been, but instead is the result in a shift in enforcement priorities.

This shift toward more liberal enforcement priorities is not limited to the federal government. The Los Angeles Times is also reporting on how several Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino but not Orange and Kern, despite nevertheless being bound by the Trust Act, are no longer complying with DHS's forty-eight-hour post-criminal-custody detainer requests ("ICE Holds"). DHS uses the ICE Holds to enable it to apprehend undocumented foreign nationals easily because they are already being held in custody but local law-enforcement authorities. Although as of yesterday the change in policy does not appear to have yet taken root at least in Los Angeles County, its prospective execution is officially not based on political concerns but rather on liability concerns. With more and more communities' refusing to comply with ICE Holds, DHS will have to find alternative methods for apprehending undocumented foreign nationals.