ICE to allow lawmakers to dismiss low-priority immigration cases to clear backlog
The directive comes as the U.S. prepares for a surge of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border with the repeal of Title 42
April 6, 2022 6:26pm
Updated: April 7, 2022 12:27pm
The Biden administration will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to dismiss low priority deportation cases, according to guidelines stated in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo released on Sunday. The memo is the Biden administration's latest effort to reform U.S. immigration enforcement.
“The Mayorkas Memorandum establishes three priorities for civil immigration enforcement. Consistent with those priorities, OPLA attorneys are directed to focus efforts and prioritize cases involving non-citizens who pose a threat to our national security, public safety, or border security,” says the memo written by chief ICE attorney Kerry Doyle.
"Prosecutorial discretion is an indispensable feature of any functioning legal system. The exercise of prosecutorial discretion, where appropriate, can preserve limited government resources, achieve just and fair outcomes in individual cases, and advance DHS's mission of administering and enforcing the immigration laws of the United States in a smart and sensible way that promotes public confidence," the memo continues.
The immigration backlog currently exceeds 1.7 million cases. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, around 700,000 or 40 percent of these cases are likely low priority.
“The memo issued today further empowers our enforcement attorneys to focus on these priorities, and it will help clear a longstanding case backlog that has clogged the immigration court system and stood in the way of swiftly removing the greatest threats,” he continued.
The directive comes as the U.S. prepares for a surge of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border with the repeal of Title 42. The measure, implemented by the Trump administration in 2022, allows border agents to turn away asylum-seeking migrants at the border to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So far in the Fiscal Year 2022, Border Patrol agents have intercepted almost one million undocumented immigrants, compared to 1.7 million for the entire FY 2021.