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Feds To Review Immigration Cases, Focus On Serious Crimes

Audio

Aired 11/18/11

Prosecutorial Discretion

On Thursday the Department of Homeland Security announced the next step in the Obama administration’s policy of prosecutorial discretion. Attorneys for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin reviewing all new cases in immigration court, and some pending cases, in order to focus resources on prosecuting undocumented criminals and other high priority cases.

The policy of prosecutorial discretion was drafted in June, but the government had given few concrete details about it until now. Still, government attorneys had apparently been quietly working to close some low-priority cases even before Thursday’s announcement.

“In recent weeks, I’ve had situations where government attorneys have called me and said ‘we’re interested in offering you prosecutorial discretion on this case and close it," said Jan Bejar, director of the Immigration law Clinic at University of San Diego.

Along with Thursday’s announcement, the Department of Homeland Security launched a comprehensive training program for immigration enforcement officers and attorneys on how to appropriately apply prosecutorial discretion.

The Obama administration deported a record 396,000 people in fiscal year 2011.

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