Published:  September 12, 2011

Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration’s announcement of a re-shuffling of ICE enforcement priorities, including the administrative closure of certain pending removal cases of non-criminals – and with issuance of employment authorization to affected individuals, has left many immigrant families confused and misinformed.   In this case, the confusion and misinformation stems from both a lack of specifics provided on the program to date and the vulnerability and desperation of many impacted and non-impacted individuals.

As previously discussed here, the cases of some 300,000 removal (deportation) cases pending on the immigration court docket will be reviewed and considered for “administrative closure”, assuming the individual is a non-criminal and has humanitarian factors at play in their case, such as U.S. citizen family and evidence of good moral character.  Administrative closure effectively, and indefinitely, puts a halt to the deportation process.  Furthermore, an individual benefiting from the new administrative closure mercy will be eligible to obtain an Employment Authorization Document.

Since the initiative was announced a few weeks back, no further details have been given on this program, although there seems to be no good reason these impacted individuals should not be taking immediate action to seek ICE’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion for the dismissal or closure of their cases. But, for an individual to benefit from this program, they must be in removal proceedings already. Further, as of yet, no details have been given how individuals benefiting from the closure of their removal cases can apply for employment authorization.

With the lack of specifics and the hysteria most undocumented individuals are prone to at the sound of any type of forgiving immigration initiative, there is much confusion and misinformation in the various communities of exactly what this program is all about.   Even worse, there are professionals and pseudo/wannabe professionals in these communities seeking to exploit the lack of information and the desperation of the undocumented population by presenting the program as an amnesty – where an application can be submitted by any undocumented person, and with a professional and filing fee to be collected for the processing of such a fictitious case.

So, for those interested in this new program, here are some key points to take away at this stage:

*  The individual must be in removal proceedings to benefit from the program,

*  A request seeking prosecutorial discretion and administrative closure of cases of impacted individuals can be started now, although the procedure to facilitate issuance of employment authorization has yet to be an be established and,

*  This program is not an amnesty, or a program to be signed up for by any undocumented person.

Copyright © 2011, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois