On August 18, the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the establishment of a high-level joint Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Department of Justice (DOJ) working group. This new group is to make sure that DHS and DOJ resources are focused on the highest immigration enforcement priorities, such as: national security, public safety, border security and the integrity of U.S. immigration system.
The DHS – DOJ working group is to conduct a case-by-case review of the approximately 300,000 removal cases currently pending before the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and federal courts of appeals. Those removal cases that are identified as “low priority” will be administratively closed and the respondents will be eligible to apply for work authorization with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The working group will also initiate a case-by-case review to ensure that new cases placed in removal proceedings meet DHS’s new enforcement priorities. New guidance is to be issued to prevent low priority cases from entering the system in the first place.
Additionally, the working group will issue department-wide guidance on prosecutorial discretion, including those cases that already have final orders of removal. By taking low priority cases out of the system, additional resources will be focused on matters posing a threat to public safety.