Colorado to test new Obama immigration rules
DENVER (AP) – Immigrant rights groups plan to outline the Obama administration’s new deportation policy that would allow qualified illegal immigrants facing expulsion to be classified as low priority for immigration enforcement and have their cases closed.
The six-week pilot project in Denver is part of a policy change announced in June by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said the administration is putting those who pose a public safety or national security threat at the top of the line.
Republicans said making it a priority to deport those immigrants amounts to a back-door way of granting amnesty to other people who are living in the U.S. illegally but haven’t committed crimes.
Napolitano said the Department of Homeland Security is using fingerprints collected from those held in local jails to identify and deport criminals and repeat immigration violators.
Advocates for an immigration overhaul said the current program, known as Secure Communities, has resulted in the deportation of people accused of traffic violations or other misdemeanors. Several states have said they don’t want to participate, arguing that immigration is a federal, not state, responsibility.
Congressional Republicans have said the government must first secure the border before discussions can turn to an overhaul.
Opponents said the Obama administration has abandoned worksite enforcement, allowing illegal workers to take jobs that should go to American workers.
In a letter this summer to senators who have supported comprehensive immigration changes, Napolitano promised a review of about 300,000 cases pending in federal immigration courts. She wrote that many people who had no criminal history might have their cases delayed indefinitely.
Those people would then be eligible to apply for permission to work in the United States, though such approval is not guaranteed.