SEIU Lauds New DHS Focus on Serious Criminals

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–August 19, 2011.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that an inter-agency task force will begin reviewing 300,000 pending immigration cases to stop removal proceedings if they do not involve high priority cases involving immigrants convicted of serious crimes. Some of the low-priority categories that would be shelved could include, for example, children who have no criminal records and were brought to the U.S. by their parents and undocumented spouses of U.S. military personnel.

The task force – including the U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees all immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews and administrative hearings – will set criteria for deportation orders, with the minor cases being scrapped.

These policy changes – if carried out as proposed – would make DHS’s enforcement policies much more effective and consistent our nation’s values. SEIU’s International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina issued the following statement:

“Finally, the administration is responding to our concerns about the Secure Communities program, which was supposed to focus on serious criminals and potential terrorists, but instead entrapped traffic violators, students, victims of domestic violence and other low priority cases.

“Such misfires use up limited resources, divert attention away from those who pose a real public safety threat, clog immigration court dockets, and impair community safety and trust in local law enforcement officers. It is little wonder that the Secure Communities program has drawn criticism from state governors and local police chiefs.

“While we disagree with the administration’s decision to expand the Secure Communities program nationwide, we are encouraged that DHS is attempting to fulfill its pledge to focus its deportation strategy on serious criminals.

“We eagerly await the details on how the pending cases will be screened.

“Perhaps, in reviewing prosecutorial discretion standards, the task force will realize that the Secure Communities program should be scrapped altogether.

“Meanwhile, we applaud this important step in improved immigration enforcement until a broader comprehensive solution is passed by Congress.”